Friday, June 17, 2011

Top 5 responses to claims that YA books are too dark

List by Danielle, Annie and Phillippa

'YA literature saves lives. Every. Single. Day.'
~ Laurie Halse Anderson, 'Stuck between rage and compassion'

A couple of weeks ago, a storm broke in the world of YA writing, when Wall Street Journal published a piece by Meghan Cox Gurdon stating that 'Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity'; essentially, that YA books were drowning their readers in a relentless sea of darkness. You can read the original article here, and a response to it by School Library Journal blogger Liz B here, with some great links in it. For more background on the debate, and her own take on why 'YA saves' (the Twitter hashtag chosen to marshal a response to the Wall Street Journal's article), read Annie's post for the Auckland Libraries' teen blog.

Okay, so here's what I love best about this debate: the incredible inspiration I get every time I read the funny, snarky, smart, passionate responses of YA writers and readers to the original article. I'm not surprised, because a lot of the YA books I read have the same qualities - they are funny, and smart, and, in my experience, full of hope for people and for the future. I think Annie's post captured that really well so I'll quote her on this one:

'That’s what the Wall Street Journal author missed – 99.9% of teen literature – no matter how dark the theme or experience – has hope. For abused teen in a novel, read survivor. For every oppressive, dystopian society there are a group of rebels, people fighting for their rights.'

Below are a selection from the Twitter responses to the WSJ article, as selected by myself and some of our teen librarians. Believe me - this is just the tip of the iceberg :)



When copies of Boy Meets Boy or Rainbow Boys go missing, I know #YAsaves even if they couldn't check it out for fear of being seen (Nicole Politi)



HULK READ #YASAVES TAG. HULK CRY BIG GREEN TEAR. HULK LOVE BOOKS, GLAD TEENS READ. THINK @WSJ SHOULD READ MORE BEFORE WRITE ARTICLES. (Editor Hulk)

Because sometimes pretending everything is fine will kill you faster than suicide (Josin McQuein)

I've heard my books make people happy in dark times. My actual hope is to increase Taser violence against vampires (Kiersten White)

YA haters, you cannot win. Because WE HAVE YOUR CHILDREN. (Josh Lewis)

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