There’s been an interesting article going around the writer and reading communities published by the Wall Street Journal. If you haven’t seen it or read it, then you should click on the link and read it.
The article in question is about the appropriateness of teen literature. It also states that every YA novel is dark and filled with profanity.
This means that everything by Sarah Dessen is morbid and books like Cloaked must be laced with sex. After all, Hunger Games is on the banned list not just because of violence but also because of being sexually explicit — however I only remember the kissing. But I’m sure sex was in the book somewhere between the lines.
Yes, there are books out there that dive into darker topics like sex slavery (Sold), rape (Speak), and even incest (The Mortal Instruments Series) but they don’t make up the bulk of YA literature. For instance: if you walk into a bookstore and head to the YA section, you will see far more books on fluff and fallen angels right now than rape and vampires. And though some of the topics are dark, most of those books have happy endings because the books are intended to give teens hope.
Is the world all rainbows and sunshine after all? Should we forever shelter our children from the stark realities of the world so they can find out for themselves when they turn 18? Or would teens just pick up books from the adult fiction section and wouldn’t they find out about the world through those books? Adult fiction delves into dark subjects just as well, but like YA, they’re not filled with them.
Books that deal with darker issues might get teens talking and open up. The average person doesn’t constantly seek depressing books unless required by their school curriculum. My parents let me choose what books I wanted to read for myself and trusted me to make good judgement calls on what we both felt was appropriate for me. I wasn’t scarred when I read about the horrors of the Japanese occupation of Korea in World War II in My Name was Keoko nor did I feel that I should run away from home and fake my own death after reading Tom Sawyer. The only time my father ever voiced a concern, ironically, was with the books that my high school required me to read since it was always about suicide and female oppression.
What one parent might find appropriate for their child might not be appropriate for another child and that’s fine. But it’s not fair to regard these issue books as inappropriate for every teen because one of those so-called inappropriate books could save a teen’s life. Don’t believe me? Just go to twitter and search #YA saves for their testimonials.
So is the darkness too visible? I dunno. You tell me.