Tuesday, 7 June 2011

On the terribad "darkness" of YA literature

Ok. so someone has written a “won't you please think of the children” article about the terrible terrible darkness and drama of YA fiction And won't we allll please think of the children.

My side-eyes are epic. Actually first of all can we have a giggle at the idea that a YA novel with vampires in it is even remotely dark?

Life is dark.

Life for many teens is also dark.

Closing your eyes and pretending it's light really doesn't stop you running into things. It doesn't help guide you through the darkness. It doesn't give you a hand or a direction. It doesn't turn on a light or show you the way or help you hold on until it gets lighter.

You think teens don't know these things? You think teens don't live these things? Do you think teens live in fluffy little boxes where all is summery and light and shiny? Do you think teens don't live with drug addiction, with self-harm, with mental illness, with eating disorders with suicide, with pain, with suffering, with fear, with grief, with loss?

Do you think that anyone is this naïve and ignorant? Do you think it's GOOD for them to be this naïve and ignorant?

Do you think denying teens live with this helps them? Do you think teens living through this not being able to see anyone like them, going through what they go through and SURVIVING and being STRONG and POWERFUL and BRAVE and TOUGH and EPIC helps them?

Do you think raising another generation of kids to believe the bad shit doesn't happen is a good thing? Do you think those rosy tinted spectacles are really such a useful thing? Do you think it'll help them if they ever experience these horrors? Do you think it'll help them understand these horrors? Do you think they will understand and be able to help people around them who have lived through this? Or would it be better for them to keep those rose glasses on, to live in denial and doubt – and to confront those who hurt around them with shock and scepticism?

I'd much rather people see that the bad things happen, that the pain is there, I'd much rather they be raised on the knowledge it happens than the denial of it. I'd much rather people know the scale of it, then spend their lives downplaying it. I'd rather people be aware rather than shocked, sympathetic rather than sceptical. I'd rather us see that there is this darkness out there – and people who have faced it actually exist – then live in denial of it and them.

My main concern would be people who have lived these darknesses who cannot or do not wish to face it in a book – but that's a concern for trigger warnings, not for such content not to exist.

Oh and can we have bonus fails for her “recommended” reading list? Because it's gender segregated (don't you know, young ladies only read a certain kind of novel!) and it does not look like the most diverse group of literature