For those of you who like YA, I’m sure you’ve seen that click-baitish article over on Salon. No, I will not provide the link for it. Suffice to say that it reiterated one of the most common misconceptions about the genre: YA as trite, easy, and lacking any nuance. That idea is one of my biggest literary pet peeves. My other literary pet peeve is on the opposite side of the spectrum: That YA should only be trite, easy, and lacking any nuance because our little snowflakes are way too precious to be exposed to the evils of the world.
To which I say: Your little snowflake has definitely been exposed to some of the evil in the world. You might as well give them a great book to help them sort out their feelings.
There is a lot I have to say on the subject, and I don’t have time to expand on it all right now. This piece by Sherman Alexie sums up a lot of my feelings about the practice of trying to ban books for children. In the end, the only thing it’s doing is giving misguided adults the illusion of protection.
When some cultural critics fret about the “ever-more-appalling” YA books, they aren’t trying to protect African-American teens forced to walk through metal detectors on their way into school. Or Mexican-American teens enduring the culturally schizophrenic life of being American citizens and the children of illegal immigrants. Or Native American teens growing up on Third World reservations. Or poor white kids trying to survive the meth-hazed trailer parks. They aren’t trying to protect the poor from poverty. Or victims from rapists.
No, they are simply trying to protect their privileged notions of what literature is and should be. They are trying to protect privileged children. Or the seemingly privileged.