Meghan Cox Gurdon wrote an article a couple days ago in the Wall Street Journal about how darkity-dark-dark-dark YA was getting. Her anecdotal evidence is that a friend went into a chain bookstore and was totally unable to find a YA book suitable for her daughter.
Sherman Alexie wrote a response that I want to hug and feed and call George. If you haven't read any of his long or short fiction, please do. He's one of the best contemporary writers out there, and (for those of you who are like me) I've only heard good things about him as a person. His writing is incredible; if you haven't read him, rectify, rectify, rectify.
Gurdon's article comes at the same time as Naomi-Fucking-Rapist-Defending-Wolf's article that presents another attack on YA. Between the two of them, a person is supposed to absorb the following facts: YA is too dark, glamorizes the wrong lifestyles, and won't someone think of the children?
I really think that YA authors these days are thinking of the children.
1. Some teenagers crave darkness. Some of my most well-adjusted, privileged students list A CHILD CALLED IT as their favorite book. Teenagers, and adults, crave the extremes. Even if it's just to say thank all the powers in any pantheon that my life is good.
2. There's a tremendous amount of relief and affirmation to find out you're not the only one. I'm speaking for myself, but when I am lucky enough to find a book that talks about a trauma I've experienced or shares a darkness that pervades my heart, I'm damn grateful that I'm not a freak. To me, the words "You're not alone" are the ultimate salve.
Both of those authors can suck my dick. Their articles show a woeful ignorance of YA literature and come from a incredibly high pedestal of privilege.
If Gurdon doesn't understand that teen readers want to know the dark side of reality from the safe space of a book, and if Wolf doesn't know that extremes can be tantalizing without influencing, they should both get on their knees and thank whatever deity enabled them to escape their teen years unscathed- even vicariously unscathed.
The comments for the Gurdon article are defuckinglightful because of all the ways ignorance can manifest itself. One commenter clutches her pearls (AND AREN'T ALL THESE WOMEN CLUTCHING THEIR PEARLS?- and not even in a good way) and says that she disdains modern YA lit and recommends solid, virtuous lit like THE DRAGON RIDERS OF PERN.
I love Anne MacCaffrey and I love the hell out of them dragonriders. Geez, for the longest time I wanted my own little hatchling to impress. I would've even settled for a dragon lizard. But those books contain some pretty thorny issues: child abuse, bullying, the slaughter of a family, rape, forced seduction (that is referred to as rape), and sexual content (when a dragon needs to fly- and I think you know what I mean- the rider has no choice of the deed or the partner. The dragon decides).
What kills me is that the articles don't acknowledge the fact that this time in history is an mother-effing boom-time in YA lit. Anything, anything young readers want is theirs for the taking. Sweet or sour, realistic or unrealistic, dark or light, it's all there.
I don't know how these women live with their ignorance. I guess their privilege makes one hell of a shelter.
*Original title: I want to piss on their faces to put out the fire of their ignorance