Monday, February 28, 2011

Musing Monday..Let Me Grab My Rose Colored Glasses

I am late on my Musing today.
Jury duty is over...justice has been done,  and it is back to work...and let me tell ya, I had a lot more time to read and muse and blog when I at jury duty!
So late, but here is the question this always from Miz B at Should Be Reading.

This week’s musing asksWhich do you prefer: Adult -or- Young Adult books? Or, both? Why?
To tell you the truth, before I started blogging and reading a lot of book blogs, I was not really aware that there was this whole genre called Young Adult or YA books. Now I have read some, but I wondered if there was some sort of definitive explanation of what makes a YA book and who better to ask than Wikipedia! So what do they say. Well, pretty much that it is a very wide and rather fluid term. It can be science fiction or mysteries or fantasy but a great deal of it falls into a contemporary fiction with a sort of 'coming of age' spin. Usually the protaganist is a young person and very often, especially in the ones of the last couple of decades, "has portrayed teens confronting situations and social issues that have pushed the edge of then-acceptable content."

I know many of my fellow bloggers may disagree with me. I know many read a lot of YA books themselves and like them a great deal, but I can't really say I share the same enthusiasm.  I guess this whole issue of how these edgy topics, this 'acceptable content' is handled  is where I begin to have a bit of a problem with some, maybe a lot, of these YA books. The author of the entry in Wikipedia goes on to list a large number of books in this genre and the issues the books deal, incest, rape, drugs, depression, alcohol, kidnapping, drug trafficking, self-mutilation, suicide, abuse, violence...the list goes on and on. Charming...
I touched on this idea in a YA book I reviewed awhile was a book that most bloggers loved and I surely did not. Yes, I am not naive enough not to know that some of these things, some of these issues, will actually effect some young people. A sad and tragic situation, but really, is it so common, so pervasive that kids have to be exposed to it again and again? Am I naive to think that the world they experience in books might be unlifting and nobel and least sometimes? Is it wrong to think that even kids that are having a hard time in their lives might not find in books an escape, a vision of a better world?

Kids are not fully formed. Their view of life is limited. You know the idea that we are what we consume? Well, we are...we are what we eat, and how we spend our days, and what we watch on TV and the games we play, and the sites we surf on the internet and the books we read. All these things form who we are, how we see the world.  I am afraid that with young people it is even more powerful, they they are even more vulnerable to all these negative, 'edgy' images and they might really draw young people down instead of helping to lift them up.

And I really wonder if most parents even know it is an issue. They might worry about what their kids might see at the movies or experience in a video game, and often with cause. But they see them reading a book from the library and think that is great and never consider that maybe the parents should be checking the books out before their child reads it.

Now, I don't want to paint with too broad a brush. I have read a few YA books that I liked and thought were good and would be happy to see a child reading. Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy was, I though, entertaining and explored some important ideas in a pretty positive way. Yes, they were pretty violent in places...but I don't really think they were ever negative. And then take the books of Jacqueline Woodson, several of which I liked a great deal. They are books that, yes, deal with some of those 'edgy' topics. But they do so in such a sensitive, almost quiet way, and are so beautifully written that even while they can be sad, they are still positive and hopeful.

Bottom line, I am not very impressed with a lot of what falls in the YA category...and if I were a parent, I would be carefully checking it out before little Johnny or Susie reads it. Maybe getting them some copies of Anne of Green Gables or Treasure Island or The Yearling...



  1. I don't read a lot of YA, but I do enjoy some of it.

  2. It's true a lot of YA consists of bad "issues" but I'm guessing it's because, since schools already seem to have taken on potty training and sex ed, they might as well continue on with the facts of life. By the way, the book I reviewed today which is a new 2010 YA book is like an Anne of Green Gables book, and that is precisely why I loved it! Those books really ARE uplifting and wonderful. Personally, I like the YA books full of the negative stuff for me as an adult, because they pack an emotional impact, but if I were buying books for my kid, I'd probably go the Anne of GG route!

  3. I have to agree parents would agree with you, but I think most kids would be looking for the more edgy stuff...which is, I assume, what these authors know.

  4. I too was unaware of this whole YA thing until I started blogging. I've dabbled in it but tend to more disappinted than excited. I'm also somewhat confused over the label as it does seem very fluid (as you said). The fact that "The Book Thief" and "The Hunger Games" are both considered YA just boggles my mind. Let's just call them both fiction.

  5. I whole heartedly agree with you on this. It's so discouraging to see what kids are fed these days, even in school. I'm a realist, I know it's out there in the real world, but can't we preserve our kids' innocence for just a little while longer? And for those that are confronted with some of the issues, perhaps they'd like to read for the one of the reasons I do. To escape!

  6. I don't read much YA. To be honest, most of it deals with heavier topics than I like read about, especially the ones that get raves.

    That being said, my daughter's 11, she doesn't read YA yet, but my stance has always been and will be that she can read whatever books she wants, she can even grab anything off my bookshelf that she wants.


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