Wednesday, June 8, 2011

YA Rocks: My Fave Responses to the WSJ Article

I write YA. And a little bit of nonfiction, middle grade, picture books...yeah, well, I write lots of stuff. I read too. I've always read. A lot. One of my earliest memories is visiting the library on vacation at my grandparents house and hauling back an armload of books for the week.

I wasn't a kid who read dark stuff. But I knew kids who did. As a teen, I tended toward John Jakes' NORTH AND SOUTH, rather than FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC like my peers.

Ok, so I was a weird kid who liked history. And I guess NORTH AND SOUTH is dark in a different way. :)

Anyway, my parents never ever ever told me what I could or couldn't read. I self censored. I remember being in a friend's bedroom as a 15-year-old and picking up Judy Blume's FOREVER and being fascinated. And horrified. Could I have brought it home to read? Sure, I don't think my mom wouldn't have been bothered by it at all--actually she probably wouldn't have known. But it wasn't something I was comfortable with.

And I think that still stands true with kids today. They're going to read YA (dark or light) or they're not. They're going to read Adult Science Fiction. Or Historical Fiction. Or Steampunk. Or Graphic novels. Isn't reading what it's all about? I mean, wouldn't we rather our children explore an issue in depth in a book than stare at some vapid teen melodrama? (not that vapid teen melodramas are bad, I'm just saying.)

Being on the periphery of the writing industry, I'm always interested in what's going on. I don't always feel like I'm qualified to weigh in on issues, but as a YA writer hoping to be published, I read the Wall Street Journal article about the supposed sad state of young adult fiction.

The only thing I could think when I finished was, "this lady hasn't been reading enough YA." Sure there are dark books out there (and there should be), but there are also loads of cool paranormal, dystopian, contemporary romance, and comedies. Action adventure, mystery, and tons more coming out every day! The author of the article clearly didn't talk to any booksellers, librarians, or authors. Or even teenagers.

These are my favorite responses to the WSJ article:

Andrew Smith's Open Letter to lauren myracle, jackie morse kessler, and cheryl rainfield aka the axis of evil.

The YA Five - open letter to a frightened mother of a bookless teen.

Laurie Halse Anderson's Stuck Between Rage and Compassion

Hey WSJ, YA Fiction is Just Fine

Caissie St. Onge on the LA Review of Books blog

Jaime Adoff--YA Saves Misses the Boat

And if you haven't check out the #YASaves hashtag on twitter. And for a laugh, check out #YAKills.


Laura Pauling said...

It is the dark covers that are seen more easily in a bookstore but there are plenty of lighter reads too with fun covers. You just have to look more than 5 seconds.

Heather Kelly said...

Anyone who implies, however implicitly, that books should be censored should re-examine their priorities. I know the c word wasn't used from the WSJ article, but that's what I took from it. :/ Thanks for the links!

Kristine Asselin said...

Laura--you're right. I was encouraged (actually before this article came out) a week or so ago when I was in my local B&N and contemporary outnumbered paranormal. Not that paranormal is bad or needs to be outnumber, but I write contemporary. :)

Heather--I think parents of young children have a right to censor. But once kids get to an age to choose for themselves, parents should let them--and never ever should the public have a right to censor what my kids are reading. My DD is only 8, so she much reads what I buy for her (so far)--I hope she decides to read books that challenge her (and me) in the future.

Laura Marcella said...

The article would've been a lot better if she'd gotten some response from teenagers. People need to give the young generation more credit!

MG Higgins said...

As I commented on another post on this subject, I wish there had been more "dark" books when I was growing up. They would have helped me feel more normal.

Julia Darcey said...

I completely agree. Not only do we need dark books, I think humans also fundamentally enjoy them. Why? Because everyone faces dark periods sometimes, and we need to know that there can be a happy ending if we just keep pushing through.

Also thank you for assembling these links, Kris! I'm too lazy to patrol the blogosphere for myself, so this post is solid GOLD.

Katy said...

Ooh, thanks for all the great links, Kris!

I totally agree with Julia: Many people enjoy dark books. Even if they aren't going through a dark time themselves, it can be fascinating to read about terrible situations. I doubt that'll ever change.

And you're right Kris: sure there are plentry of dark YA books, but there's also lots of everything else--if you're looking.

Ansha said...

I got so sidetracked by your links that I forgot to post a comment. GREAT post, and I love the responses you linked to. :)