A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Sunday, June 5, 2011

WSJ has no clue #YASaves

I've dragged my soapbox out again.  And I'm not afraid to use it.  Recently, there was a post in the WSJ that irritated several people.  Such as KD SargeChuck Wendig, and even another author at the WSJ Christopher Farley.  I was curious, so I went looking for the article in question.

This irritates me.

Let me explain why: I'm one of THOSE children.  A child who slipped through the cracks and was pretty much forgotten by everyone except bullies...and my middle school and high school librarians.  Those librarians saved my life by directing me to books that they hoped I'd love.  And not all of those books were sweetness and light.

I talk about my mum and how awesome she was.  And she was awesome, once I became an adult and moved away for a few years.  But when I was growing up, my mum was trying to come to terms with being raised by abusive parents and undiagnosed mental illness.  In plain English, mum was an abusive tyrant.  My dad was never there.  Even when he was there he wasn't THERE.  If not for the librarians and the books they shoved into my hands, I think I'd probably have killed myself.

The books they suggested gave me hope.  They showed me there was a way to escape my hell.  Not only by reading and vanishing into someone else's reality, but by finding a way out of the darkness.  My parents were ultra religious.  I didn't even understand myself because they expected me to fit into their mold and when I didn't I was punished severely for it.  The books showed me new ways of thinking, of dreaming, of existing.

Many of those books were dark and had a lot of overtones of violence, sexual content, and the darker aspects of human nature.  They were not fluffy books.  Fluffy books didn't appeal to me because they were so unrealistic that they made me angry.  To this day I still can't pick up books that are super fluffy because I'll just chuck them at the wall or something.

I'll admit there are more books on the market that deal with the darker subjects than there were when I was growing up.  To be perfectly honest, I wish these books had been around.  They're more to the point than the books I was reading were.  I'd probably have skipped more classes if I'd been able to read those books though, so it might be a good thing that they WEREN'T around when I was growing up.

The tripe about how adolescents don't need books like this is just disgusting.  These books perform a service that some parents don't have time to: they offer hope.  They show that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that they can find a way out.  They go on to show that there are people who can be trusted.  They help teach empathy, a skill many adults would be better off for learning.

YA literature today is what I wish it had been when I was growing up.  I'm proud to support the YA writers I've met and will continue to support them.  Don't try to sugar coat things for teenagers.  One thing I've learned from helping to raise my niece and nephew (who are well adjusted adults now, for the most part, even though they read a lot of these darker YA stories): teenagers have that uncanny knack of knowing when you're feeding them fluff and for many of them, that's the biggest insult there is.

*climbs off soapbox & goes back to regular blogging activities*


  1. Great comeback to the article!

    Personally, I think the "fluffy" books do more harm than the darker YA books.