Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Yesterday's post mentioned on of the recent YA controversies; however, it is far from the only controversy in the field of Young Adult Literature. It seems almost every other week people are arguing about something: Boy Books, the B***** List, Feminism, Violence, Sex, and sooo much more. It seems you can't mention a popular YA book without some controversy popping up.

Why? Why is YA so ridiculously controversial? MG rarely has this problem, with the exception of some misled people thinking Harry Potter is of the devil. Adult books have controversy but the controversy is never about whether its ok for adult books to discuss topics or whether something is appropriate or too much. So why is the controversy all in YA?

Well I think the real answer to this is that MG is determinedly PG or low PG-13. Adult books have free range to be anything from G to NC-17. But YA books....oh YA books. Some are cleanly G. Some are NC-17. Most I would argue are safely PG-13. And they are aimed at teenagers, which is a group of people as widely diverse as any can be.

We want to keep our kids safe. We want to teach them good things. But kids don't always live in a safe world. They don't always do good things. Where is the line in portraying the world as it is and portraying the lessons and world views we want teens to have? Where is the line in wanting to keep our kids safe and wanting to censor them?

My parents never limited what I read. My parents really had no idea what I was reading, not because they were bad parents, but because they couldn't. I just read too much. But on the other hand, I didn't read YA books (by choice) as a teen. I solidly and steadily read adult books--most of which were safely PG-13. But my little sister read A LOT of YA books as a teen, and I tried my best to read them all--to keep up with what she was reading, and I have to say I was stunned by the messages I felt YA was giving, messages that I didn't feel were in adult books--messages that I felt were detrimental and hurtful to a female teenager's mind.

I would try to talk to my sister about these books--try to give her better books to read, better YA books with awesome messages, but she didn't want anything to do with a book I recommended to her--she still doesn't.

And therein lies the crux of all YA controversies.

We're trying to protect people who don't want to be protected.

And so YA is always going to have controversy. Parents are always going to try to shelter their kids. Teens are always going to push back on those protections.

Anyway, I mention all this because in the coming weeks I might do a few posts on some of the controversies out there and my often strange feelings about them. I've mentioned this before but I was a really strange, logical, rational teenager. This often causes me to have really strange opinions on things because when I look back at the olden days when I was in teen at the turn of the century (that's right I get to say that), I remember how coolly logical my thoughts were. But I recognize now that most females under twenty aren't like that (at the time it frankly baffled me).

So I hope you don't mind as in the next few weeks we explore the random opinions of this crazy writer. And if you have any controversies you would like my two cents on please leave them in the comments. Though lets please keep them at least loosely related to books.


  1. I had a friend who wouldn't allow his kids to read Harry Potter because it had witchcraft in it.

  2. My parents almost stopped me from reading Harry Potter. We had a long serious conversation when I was fourteen years old (right before Book 4 came out) about whether or not I should read the books. Luckily for me, my parents are rational people and saw that Harry Potter is no more evil than LOTR or The Once and Future King. I guess I'm just blessed with awesome rational parents like that.