Monday, June 13, 2011

Pin-up Post: Great Books with Happy endings

in that horrible Wall Street Journal article is was suggested by Meghan Cox Gurdon that all YA novels were about "vampires and suicide and self-mutilation, this dark, dark stuff" i felt it would be good to remind people that this is far from the truth. so this Pin-up post is just to show a few Australian books which have no dark content and happy endings.

Blueback by Tim Winton
this book is set in a beautiful deserted beach town. Able grows up spending almost as much time in the water as out of it, even though his father was the victim of a fatal shark attack when able was a little boy. he lives alone with his mother as they run their farm and sustainable house. things intervene with this idyllic life of course, like school, developers, fishermen and growing up. no matter what happens though Able never forgets his friend Blueback, a giant fish.
a sweet, simple tale. short and well written, like all winton's work.

Triple Ripple by Brigid Lowry
this a stories rolled into one. the fairytale of Glory who is sent to work in the castle and uncovers some big secrets, the life of Nov as she battles through high school, and the writer who has to pull the story together. the stories blend together, giving us a great books as yummy as ice cream. it's a book that most girls would enjoy, mixing fantasy and contemporary together.
Ten things i hate about me by Randa Abdel-Fattah
as far as i can remember this book has nothing dark in it, the few mentions of death, racism and other things aren't described, but from the point of view of Jamie. Jamie is fighting to understand her father and his sexist over-protective rules. her brother doesn't have to be home before dark, why does she? through the book Jamie fights with her Muslim identity, and her identity as a person regardless of everyone Else's views. set in a typical Australian school. gives a good cultural insight (at least for me) and as far as i remember mainly very friendly to read.

this is just a small selection of great books, which i see as having nothing that would scare a 13 year old. people should actually read YA before they judge it. I've never found a community like ours :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dear Wall Street Journal

this is my delayed response to Meghan Cox Gurdon's article "Darkness Too Visible" and YA in the Wall Street Journal.

Dear Wall Street Journal,

I am a young adult. I read young adult fiction. As I was reading “Darkness Too Visible” I found myself wondering where Meghan Cox Gurdon had been book shopping. It seemed laughable to me that she was claiming that YA was all about self-harm, rape, drugs or incest. It was been proposed on this piece of ‘journalism’ that all teen fiction is dark, and that it is harming young adults. Not one book that fitted this description came to mind. As I thought about the books I read I had to admit that they had some serious or mature themes, but nothing I would call “ a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is.” Adolescence is a time of creating who you are, becoming an adult. This is why young adult books are about people fighting to become the person they want to be in a scary world. this is what we want and Need to read as we step out of our protected childhoods, or realise that other people have gone through bad things like we have.

Books are one of the best things in my life, and I have a very good life. Nothing bad has ever really happened to me. They allow me to enter a world of experiences I know nothing about. A good book awakes my every nerve in my body and sets it alight. It leaves me feeling charged and actually changed me. These books with there themes which ‘are too scary for teenage girls’, allow me to connect with a character who is going through something I don’t understand, and I come out of it a better person. These books are teachers. They talk to me in a way that the adults me my life don’t. At 13 I read Forever by Judy Bloom, and I will admit that is was confronting. No one had ever really talked me about Sex, I knew what it was and how it worked, but this book taught me the pressures and confusions.

The reason I look to books is because they can often explain what I’m going through. Whether they’re struggling after a horrific event or just struggling with school they sometimes know what it is that I can’t explain and help me to understand. If these books were banned young adults would lose one of the things that really helps them to express themselves and cope in a good way. When I read a good book, like If I Stay about a girl in a coma or Wintergirls about anorexia, it holds me tight as it introduces me to a scary world, it lets me experience it and then it stays with me while I gather the information and leads me to see the beauty in the ending, because both these books have life affirming endings. I now understand life a little better. I am intelligent young woman, I know when I’m reading crap. All teenagers are capable of thinking and forming an opinion; if every little thing that happens around us traumatised us then all girls who played with Barbies would end up with self-confidence issues. If I don’t agree with what a character does it just helps me to realize I don’t want to live like that.

This article really shows the fear Meghan Cox Gurdon has of the world. The problems teenagers are facing cannot be blamed on literature. These dark issue need to be discussed by parents and other people who Really influence their lives. Literature for young adults is better than it has ever been before, with more variety, good quality writing, and significant issues. Books educate, they help us to understand others and ourselves. We relate to them. They are a brilliant form of communication that can be spread globally. Articles like this are discouraging teenagers from reading, and parents from encouraging them to, which would be even more damaging. One day I want to write a book which makes a young person go “she understands me, I now know” this is my aim, to help a person by writing an uplifting book about a serious issue to show the light. The world is a dark place, and adolescence is when we discover this. YA novels just show us how to find the light.


Reviewer for Australian YA blog Cherry Banana Split.