Yesterday, a major story in the Wall Street Journalabout, not money, not stocks or bonds, not jobs, about -- Young Adult Literature -- "Darkness Too Visible: Contemporary fictions for teens is rife with abuse, violence, depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?" by Meghan Cox Gordan.
Listen up, I loved reading Judy Blume and S.E. Hinton too. I even loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (all of these she recommends). I re-read The Outsiders recently -- and for the most part -- it still reads really well, the characters are deeply developed. I still wanted to make everything for Pony, in the same way I did when I was 12 or 13 (okay, what does that say about me?). But maybe a deeper look at the raw realism of today (yes, okay, LIE) is called for? Where was Laurie Anderson in this article? The raw New York City based novels of Paul Volponi (who in full disclosure gave LIE a great blurb, though I have never met him), or of Walter Dean Meyers? She calls Hunger Games 'hyper violent.' Hey, it's a strong female fighting the capriciousness dictatorial society, but then recommends Fahrenheit 451. I'm not sure of the difference in theme, except one has been deemed a 'classic,' by time and literary critics. She goes on to tout other classics, or even books such as Ophelia by Lisa Kline (in full disclosure I haven't read, but is now on my reading list) based on Shakespeare Hamlet.
And one more thing that seems so fussy,( and so mistaken about YA lit in general) this Wall Street Journal writer breaks the books into 'books for young men' and' books for young women,' and what was great about S.E. Hinton is that boy or girl, you could read The Outsiders. Boy or girl you could read To Kill a Mockingbird.
So yes, darkness NEEDS to be visible. I am hoping that today's audience, boys and girls, young and old, still want to know more about the world, the true, heart-felt, devastating real world.