Ok, so I'm writing this post because there has been a lot of articles lately that are hating on YA and Book Blogging, and they really are just wrong. And I'm upset that people think of YA and book blogging in that way.
To read an anti-YA article, click here. To read an anti- book blogging article, click here. Most of you have probably already read both of these articles. This post, however, is going to focus on article one.
Lets start with article number one- "Darkness Too Visible," from The Wall Street Journal. Here's a direct quote from the article- "nothing, not a thing, that I could imagine giving my daughter. It was all vampires and suicide and self-mutilation, this dark, dark stuff."
Self- Mutilation!? I have yet to read a YA book with self-mutilation. Vampires- ok yes, there are some vampire books, but if that's not your cup of tea, you can avoid those. Suicide- I've read one suicide book, Thirteen Reasons Why, and I know for a FACT that it's changed lots of teens' lives. And then she says "this dark, dark stuff." Umm? Ok, not every YA book is "dark," and if she's just judging every book by a cover and saying that the book looks dark, that's not a fair assumption to make.
Ok, then the article goes onto say "How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a child, my dear: So dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18."
Kidnapping and brutal beatings?! I have yet to read a book with brutal beatings, all though I have read a silly little middle-grade book with kidnapping. So, seeing that I read a lot of YA, and I have never come across "brutal beatings," I don't see how it can just be "part of the run" in today's YA novels.
The article goes on to talk about how YA is so much darker than it was 40 years ago, but what they don't mention, is how much more plentiful YA is today than it was 40 years ago. My mom tells me that when she was a kid, YA hardly existed. She had Judy Blume and Jane Austen and a few more, but there was no where near as much YA as there is today. And the more, there is, the more variety. So of course now there are more genres of YA to read, and they are about tons of different topics. Some will be a little dark. Not very many, just a handful.
The article then mentions a few recent contemporary YA titles, most of which I had never heard of. It also says that the plan of "writing about something gory in hopes that people who take part in that gory something will feel comfort and stop" often backfires. Umm, I don't think that happens very often. That book I mentioned earlier, 13 Reasons Why, the one about suicide. Well, that one has definitely reversed suicidal thoughts for teens all over the globe.
Then the article mentions a YA novel I have actually heard of, Shine by Lauren Myracle. I have read this book. And I know tons of people who've read this book. I know someone that told me that Shine turned her onto reading. My english teacher read it to us as a read- aloud! Here's what the article says about Lauren Myracle's Shine- "By contrast, the latest novel by "this generation's Judy Blume," otherwise known as Lauren Myracle, takes place in a small Southern town in the aftermath of an assault on a gay teenager. The boy has been savagely beaten and left tied up with a gas pump nozzle shoved down his throat, and he may not live. The protagonist of "Shine," a 16-year-old girl and once a close friend of the victim, is herself yet to recover from a sexual assault in eighth grade; assorted locals, meanwhile, reveal themselves to be in the grip of homophobia, booze and crystal meth. Determined in the face of police indifference to investigate the attack on her friend, the girl relives her own assault (thus taking readers through it, too) and acquaints us with the concept of "bag fags," heterosexuals who engage in gay sex for drugs. The author makes free with language that can't be reprinted in a newspaper."
Ok, this is (sort of) what the book is about. Shine is a darker book, I can tell you that. But it's also a sweet story about doing the right thing. This article is attacking contemporary YA based on a small amount of YA books that have "darker" themes. A lot of contemporary YA is not like that. I would even say the majority. I read mostly contemporary YA, and most of it is a cute love story with maybe a small family problem. Nothing big. Yet, it's cute and sweet and fun so it keeps our attention. Plus if I do pick up a "darker" contemporary YA book, that I don't think I'm ready for I just close it and try it again in a year or so. It's that simple. And it's only happened once or twice.
So what do you think about contemporary YA? Too dark?
In The Perks of Being a YA Book Blogger Part 2, we will be discussing the second article, which is focused around book bloggers and book expo america.