Many of you must have come across the recent article about YA novels. If not here is the article: Darkness Too Visible: Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?
When i first read the article, i thought it was pretty biased. Okay, i get how its from the point of view of a parent and i respect that a lot. I do. But there was a flaw. As much as i believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion, i feel that one should explore all aspects before making up their mind.
But i’m kind of in the middle here too. At some point i feel that by reading books, different doors and options are opened to many people and certain facts are brought about that actually help many. But then i go back and think, are all YA books appropriate for everyone? I remember when i would see certain students younger me, borrow books that i had just started reading and i would talk about this with my friend, “Seriously, i just read this book and she’s reading it at such a young age. What the hell?” And she’d agree. But the thing is, you can’t compare yourself to others because a) as a year goes by, time changes very fast and you’ll see people doing all sorts of things, even if you’re a bit uncomfortable with them, b) being a sociology student i have to understand that what may be deviant of one society or generation can be very well the norm of another and c) everyone is different. (i might straying of the topic here, so lets get back)
There was a point where my mother would read the blurb of the book i had picked before she let me buy them. I remember picking out Gossip Girl and at the back it said, “Sex and the City of the young.” She just put it back on the shelf and said that it wasn’t appropriate. At that point i was a bit upset, but i didn’t show it. The thing is, parents don’t feel comfortable with some things and i get that now. This was when i was 14. Now, she is more relaxed. She trusts me and i am really grateful for that.
I had a friend who was reading the Twilight Saga and her mother had let her buy the whole series on the condition that she would read them first and then let her read it if she found it appropriate. I, on the other hand was reading it without parental supervision but when i heard about what my friend’s mother was doing, i told my mom that she should read it with me as well. She declined. Saying that she had no intention to read a book about vampires. And that was that. Today, after seeing the movies, i convinced her to hit the books as well and she has.
Books portray a lot! The whole reading experience is not just better vocabulary or writing power. Its a broader perspective and it gives you an idea of things, things that you might have not known before. Truthfully, i would not know half of the things that i do today if i had not read YA books. Many grown-ups will consider bad and i will disagree. See, i have this perception (i’m a sociology student, stick with me here) that the reason why adults want us to stay away from such things is because they want us to remain innocent, but the thing is this isn’t the Era of Innocence. The more you shelter your child, the more he/she doesn’t know how to cope with the world. And let me just point out, the desire to want to find out about things is so much more stronger when you hide things from us that it would be if you just let us accept reality.
What was pointed out in the article was that the writer didn’t want her daughter reading about werewolves, vampires, fallen angels etc. And i think i have a fair idea why. Its because, generally all these elements of supernatural are usually portrayed to be evil. And i also understand why they’re considered evil, its because of how they’re portrayed by the media. If you ever sit and watch the movies that date back to our parent’s youth, that is exactly how such creatures are portrayed…to be bad. But the thing is, there are good werewolves and there are bad werewolves, and there good vampires and bad vampires. But thats how its always going to be. The forces of good and evil are in our life, so obviously the forces of good and evil will be portrayed in our books as well.
As far as rape, prostitution, drugs, abuse and cutting yourself goes, i think its already a part of your child’s life at some point. God forbid, if its not your child, then its someone your child knows or some child you know. Either way we have to deal with it and at that point it becomes hard because we don’t know how to cope with it. What i’m saying is, that i had a friend who cut herself when she was upset and i knew, but i just didn’t know how to help her. And thats where YA books come in.
They save lives! We have an outlet, we get to speak about things that we were unsure or embarrassed to speak to our parents about. And thats that. So to say, that all YA produces is evil and corrupts your child is wrong. It actually makes us stronger!