I know there are probably already a million blog posts out there about this, but I HAVE to write it, friends. By now, I'm sure you've seen the article in the Wall Street Journal, Darkness Too Visible. Tears ran down my cheeks as I read it. But read it I did because I felt it only fair to do so if I was to comment on it.
This isn't the first time an inflammatory article about YA has been posted by WSJ. Remember not that long ago this one appeared as well. I can't help but wonder if the WSJ received so many hits from the controversy associated with this article that they purposely proceeded to incite a reaction with the inflammatory nature of their latest. If that is the case, it is very sad that "journalism" can have deteriorated to this extent.
I could comment here on quotes from the article. Things like "40 years ago, no one had to contend with young-adult literature because there was no such thing." CONTEND? Interesting word choice. And "In the book trade, this is known as "banning." In the parenting trade, however, we call this "judgment" or "taste."" NOT in this parent's opinion. I call it "closed-minded" and "paranoid".
But what's REALLY worth commenting on is the amazing response from our little community and beyond. The hashtag #YAsaves that appeared on Twitter took off like a firestorm. By Sunday morning it was the third highest trending topic in the US.
Books like those of Ellen Hopkins(read her post on this here), and Laurie Halse Anderson (whose excellent blog on this very subject should also be read) have literally saved the lives of the teens who found in their pages knowledge and self-empowerment. The understanding that they are not alone, that others have the same feelings and issues, and that there are consequences for their actions.
The article mentions Suzanne Collins' HUNGER GAMES, one of my favorite books. It's referred to as "Hyper-violent". Never once in that book was the violence glorified, or glossed over. I'm proud to say I've not only given this book to my own child to enjoy, but I've now passed it to several others (with parental knowledge of course). Do I expect my son to go out and start shooting people with arrows? No. I expect him to think about standing up for his rights and those of others. About doing the right thing in the face of insurmountable odds. About the price of freedom. And so many other lessons available for anyone willing to look between the words.
What YA author out there doesn't pay attention to the theme of her book? To character arc? Realistic teen voice and feelings? Trying to censor the material, and talking down to or hiding truth from teens only alienates them. Besides they deserve better than that.
I am proud to write AND read YA. And I will continue to do so, and to recommend these authors and others to friends for both them and their children.