Darkness in YA
by Ilsa J Bick
I know there’s been a lot of handwringing about that, and in fact, I wrote a fairly long rebuttal that appeared on Hunger Mountain to the Cox-Gurdon Wall Street Journal articles that started all the ruckus. The full text of that article is here.
So to give you a thumbnail, nitty-gritty: people, chill out. Seriously. I know people worry that kids will be influenced in some way by what they read—that a book could push a troubled child over the edge—but in all my years as a child psychiatrist, I never once met a kid who said that Sylvia Plath made her do it. Really, kids aren’t psychological lemmings.
I think that novels and other art forms mirror the society that produces them, and that’s been true since Og first picked up a bit of charcoal and scratched on a rock. So if things are too dark in YA lit, that might say a great deal about our world as it now stands—and if that is troubling, then maybe we, the adults, ought to be taking steps to change that and stop dumping on YA lit for holding up that mirror in the first place.
A couple years ago, I met a librarian who works in Anaheim. The population she serves lives with violence, gangs, drugs, rape, incest . . . just horrible, terrible things. What’s interesting is that her kids aren’t reading fantasies or vampire books or sci-fi. They devour contemporary novels that revolve around and mirror their reality, books about gangs and drugs and rape and incest and crime and broken families—and not because the topics are depressing. In those books the kids triumph. They find a way out of their private hells. These books are quite hopeful because the teens in them do succeed where their parents and society have failed. These novels are journeys of growth from and through darkness toward the light—and that is the essence of the adolescent experience.
*****Thank you for following along on the Monsters & Mayhem Blog Tour*****
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* Here is the complete rundown of the blog tour.
September 9th: Lex Thomas at I am a Reader, Not a Writer
September 10th: Ilsa J. Bick at Mundie Moms for MONSTERS BOOK BIRTHDAY
September 11th: Lex Thomas at All Things Urban Fantasy
September 12th: Ilsa J. Bick at Cari’s Book Blog
September 13th: Lex Thomas at Colorimetry
September 16th: Ilsa J. Bick at House of a la Mode
September 17th: Lex Thomas at Read for Your Future
September 18th: Ilsa J. Bick at Katie’s Book Blog
September 19th: Lex Thomas at My Shelf ConfessionsSeptember 20th: Ilsa J. Bick at Reading Teen