Sunday, 5 June 2011

YA Saves ...

I'm dusting off my soap box again. That is fair warning for any of you who don't want to hear read about the latest attack on YA fiction. (Young adult fiction for those not in the know.)

The world of twitter is a-buzz with the tag #YAsaves which seem to be in response to this article from the Wall Street Journal - Darkness Too Visible.

First, there are so many things wrong with this article that I am not going to go into. I don't have the time nor the patience to address all the flaws in logic that seem to spring from this 'article'. What I will address is the response from YA authors and YA readers a-like. All you need to do is go onto Twitter to see all the positive messages that are coming from from the #YAsaves tag. Everyone seems ready to state how much reading YA literature has saved their life and I can include myself in that. There are some great stories on twitter right now and they are inspiring.

Amy Freeman obviously does not remember reading any of the fairy tales and nursery rhymes so common in childhood and is now shocked by the lack of wholesome books for her thirteen year old. First, to her I would like to say that she needs to understand that reading about the darker side of life does not make one reach toward the nearest gun or dagger to perform ritual sacrifice or call on the dark lord any more than reading about a hungry caterpillar is going to turn people into over eaters.

Then she needs to look over the books that she read to her child when she was younger. I'm talking about books such as Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk and Goldilocks. If we look at these objectively the first one is about child killers, the second is about child thieves and killers and the third is about a girl who breaks into the bears house and steals food, breaks chairs and then sleeps in their beds. Is this the happy go lucky kind of reading she wants her child to have? In my own opinion Humpty Dumpty is a terrifying view of reality - imagine something being so broken that it cannot be fixed? If that doesn't hit home I don't know what will...

This is not meant as an attack on Mrs./Ms. Freeman it's more of a gripe that someone would base an article around such a silly statement that may have been taken out of context. The fact that she complains about vampires in stories rather than bunnies saying good night to things makes no difference to me, except to annoy me somewhat. What really worries me is that people are going to jump on this bandwagon or witch hunt and we are going to lose a freedom that comes with YA books. I can already hear the book banners and burners readying their pitchforks and lighting their fires.

I fear that this kind of attitude to any form of literature is going to result in the dumbing down of our children. Many places in the world already suffer from poor literacy levels and the moment books start getting banned...well we all know where that leads. As a fan of YA fiction and an advocate toward increasing literacy I don't approve of book banning since it could be the first step into a downwards spiral. We have to remember that darkness in books can be safer than darkness in real life - in fact, darkness in books is better able to help us cope with any darkness that we may face.

I can honestly say that if it wasn't for some of the YA books I read when I was younger I wouldn't be the person I am today. In fact, it could be debatable on whether I'd actually be here due to many things that happened in my life. YA fiction truly gives me hope and inspiration. It's why I work so hard on my own writing because I know the power of the written word. I know the feeling of being lost and alone is not just my burden to bare and so on.

So, Dear Wall Street Journal, please think about those lives that will be affected when you produce an article such as the one you did. Are you prepared to be a part of the current trend to dumb down the media available for children and young adults alike (plus the odd adult who really, really loves YA literature)? Are you prepared to aid in the banning of books which will result in their being less literate people around to read your articles?

As you may be able to tell, I am somewhat vexed at the moment so my writing is rather more passionate than I intended. I will leave you with some links to some great YA authors that have changed the way I think and view the world and I'm a 28 year old woman (I want to say girl but that sounds wrong) and sometimes too set in my ways for my own good...except when challenged to think differently by the following writers.

And, to those writers of such great fiction, you are heroes for writing great stories. Thanks to those librarians and book sellers who are not afraid to recommend great fiction to the youth of today. You are all heroes in my mind and in the minds of many others.

Peace and pancakes.

Libba Bray's Tweets in Response to said Article
Holly Black's Twitter
Maureen Johnson's Twitter
Scott Westerfield's Twitter
John Green's Twitter
Cassandra Clare's Twitter
Jackson Pearce's Twitter
Libba Bray's Twitter

I'm going to leave this list as is because I am still reading through many of the wonderful accounts of YA Saves...


  1. Interesting, I had no idea about all this.

  2. Twitter went crazy last night and I had to throw my two cents into the fray. Thanks.

  3. YA's made me the person I am today, too.

    And you corrected yourself, but I still call myself a 27 year old boy. I don't know at what point I want to use the title of 'man.' I don't really feel like a 'man.' (I mean, I write and read YA...)

  4. YA crafted my love of literature. YA wins hands down any day.

    Yeah I don't like the title woman much mainly because it sounds strange and I always imagine my Nana because she was always well dressed and put together whereas I live in jeans and converse. I think I'm going to stick with girl for as long as I can.

  5. Great post!
    I love YA. It's a great escape. :)

  6. Thanks. YA is one of the best escapes out there. Beats a lot of other things. :o)