WSJ Article Spawns #YASaves @ Twitter and Elsewhere

I’ve been learning how to Tweet. LOL! I feel so old saying that, but seriously, there are too many social networks these days. I can’t keep up.

On Twitter, I noticed a TON of #YASaves posts and wondered what it all the chatter was about. They are all sharing their thoughts on this Wall Street Journal article by Meghan Cox Gurdon and how “YA Saves”.

In her article titled “Darkness Too Visible: Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?”, she starts off by saying:

Amy Freeman, a 46-year-old mother of three, stood recently in the young-adult section of her local Barnes & Noble, in Bethesda, Md., feeling thwarted and disheartened.

She had popped into the bookstore to pick up a welcome-home gift for her 13-year-old, who had been away. Hundreds of lurid and dramatic covers stood on the racks before her, and there was, she felt, “nothing, not a thing, that I could imagine giving my daughter. It was all vampires and suicide and self-mutilation, this dark, dark stuff.” She left the store empty-handed.


I don’t have access to big bookstores, but even my tiny book section at the PX here in Oki has more to offer than that. Maybe she didn’t look long or hard enough?

Then, she says:

How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a child, my dear: So dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.


All things change with time. Maybe people (authors) are feeling the need to write about topics that teens face these days, topics that will spark conversion, get them to a place where they realize they aren’t alone and can find help? Just a thought.

This first paragraph is how I feel, the second … well, parents should monitor their youngsters reads, as they should monitor their video game, music and movie choices, IMO.

The argument in favor of such novels is that they validate the teen experience, giving voice to tortured adolescents who would otherwise be voiceless. If a teen has been abused, the logic follows, reading about another teen in the same straits will be comforting. If a girl cuts her flesh with a razor to relieve surging feelings of self-loathing, she will find succor in reading about another girl who cuts, mops up the blood with towels and eventually learns to manage her emotional turbulence without a knife.

Yet it is also possible—indeed, likely—that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures. Self-destructive adolescent behaviors are observably infectious and have periods of vogue. That is not to discount the real suffering that some young people endure; it is an argument for taking care.


I’ll stop there and let you read the article in full yourself.

I’d like to think there are very good YA novels out there that would empower YAs, not turn them into vampire-lovin’, alcoholic, drugged out, cutters who rape others. But, that’s just me.

This perfectly depicts YA reading for me. Actually any age, any genre, any book – escape from reality… even if only for a short while.


What are your thoughts?


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About StephB

USMC wife ~ bibliophile ~ gadget addict ~ furry baby mama

Posted on June 10, 2011, in Random Musings and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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