Right now the talk of my Twitter feed is a Wall Street Journal “review” on the state of young adult literature. Reviewer Meghan Cox Gurdon thinks young adult books of today are too violent, too sexual, too dark for the kiddiewinks of today to read. There’s so much wrong with this article I don’t know where to start. The story starts off with a quote from a parent looking for a gift for her daughter.
“Hundreds of lurid and dramatic covers stood on the racks before her, and there was, [Amy Freeman] felt, ‘nothing, not a thing, that I could imagine giving my daughter. It was all vampires and suicide and self-mutilation, this dark, dark stuff.’ She left the store empty-handed.”
So vampires are dark now? They weren’t exactly happy fluffy creatures to start with, but just because a novel has a vampire in it doesn’t make it dark. Look at the Twilight series. It has vampires, and it’s full of lulz and gnashing of teeth from the terrible writing.
Then there’s the sidebar of recommendations. The books I have in the recommendations are excellent, but they’re divided into books for boys and books for girls. And surprise, surprise–I’ve read more books in the so-called boy section than the girl section. Am I the only person who’s amused that she recommended Fahrenheit 451 in an article that is calling for censorship?
But here’s the point the writer of the article doesn’t truly get. She acknowledges the point, sure. But kids gravitate to YA books of the nature she describes to know they’re not alone–in being the funny-looking outcast, in being the only one without a date, in feeling pain and wondering if you’ll ever feel normal again. It’s not just about the tough issues described in the books, even though the reader may be able to relate to those as well on a firsthand level. These dark novels helps kids get through hell and back when they thought they never would, and they come out better thanks to those books.
So never ever stop writing, and never ever stop reading. If that’s not enough, check out the #yasaves hashtag on Twitter, which was trending worldwide last time I checked a few minutes ago. If you’re on Twitter, make your own #yasaves tweet, and mention @wsj in there while you’re at it so they see it.