If you ever doubted the power of the people, head on over to check out the Twitter feed. #YAsaves is on fire. Apparently, Wall Street Journal published a scathing (and unwarranted) attack on some of the current YA offerings, decrying the graphic violence and depiction of such gritty topics as self-mutilation, rape, suicide, bullying, homelessness, and, yes, vampires. All of these are fantasy, right? Don't happen in the real world. Shouldn't expose our vulnerable youth to such issues. Well, they may have a point about the vampires. But the rest? Get real! And to follow up on their misguided article, WSJ suggested a list of novel titles as recommended reads, even separating these out by gender (books for young women, books for young men). Wow. So 2011. Especially A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Now, I'm not a hater, but I don't see teens busting through the doors at the mall on a Saturday afternoon jonesing to buy a classic like Tree.
So all this got me thinking about what I read as a teen. After my love of reading was stoked by A Girl of the Limberlost (yes, I do love classics) and A Wrinkle in Time, I became a heavy reader of such uplifting teen lit as produced by Harold Robbins and Erica Jong. Yeah, I know -- I'm dating myself here. But the point is that Ayn Rand and Stephen King were among the best offerings. Great reads, yes. Teen lit, no. Now, the market is full of fresh, fierce stuff that draws teens into literature and speaks to their own anxieties and concerns. And if you don't think that the topics listed above (maybe with the exception of the vamps) are of concern to young people, it's time you get real.