Some Great Responses to the WSJ Article

There have been so many great responses and follow-ups to the Wall Street Journal article on “dark” and “lurid” YA novels, and below are some that I think are worth sharing–that is, if you’re not sick of this story already!

Josie Leavitt gives a bookseller’s perspective in Publishers Weekly. “There is balance to everything, and it’s just so unfortunate that Meghan Cox Gurdon’s article had none.”

On the Wall Street Journal’s arts blog (on of the best arts blogs out there, by the way), “Speakeasy,” Christopher John Farley offers a nice, reasoned response from a parent’s point of view.

Linda Holmes, writing in her NPR column, “Monkey See,” has some great points—the full article is well worth a read. Shielding kids from books with dark themes, she argues, is pointless, because the “kids who are reading scary YA fiction . . . are the kids who, if YA fiction weren’t dark and creepy sometimes, would just read dark and creepy books for adults.” Right? Hell, I was reading V. C. Andrews in high school, and plenty of others were reading Stephen King. Kids are still reading these types of books, YA or not. Holmes concludes, “Not reading scary, weird, dark, or dirty books wouldn’t have made me a different kid. It certainly wouldn’t have made me a happier kid. It might have made me a kid who read less, though.”

And finally, perhaps my favorite response—short and to-the-point and no-nonsense—is Horn Book’s Roger Sutton. He writes, simply, that “people like reading about people like themselves whose problems are more interesting than their own.” As for the whole somewhat grandiose “YA Saves” claims, Sutton says that’s all well and good, but writes, “Give me an author who is truthful and talented; spare me an author who writes to save lives.” I had this exact conversation with a friend last night, another YA writer. Sure, we hope our books make a difference and offer comfort. But as Sutton said, writers should just write honestly, without worrying about saving the world and all the kids in it. Finally, Sutton has this message to kids and parents: “If you’re a teen who is running your reading choices by your parents, grow up. If you’re a parent who feels compelled to approve your child’s reading, shut up. The books and the kids are all right.” Well said, Roger, well said.



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