Monday, June 6, 2011

Come after my books, I'll come after you...

I am writing this in response to an article published by the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Darkness too Visible”.  For those of you not fortunate enough to be enlightened by Mrs. Gurdon’s article please allow me to shed some light. Mrs. Gurdon attacks Young Adult literature by making outlandish claims and backs them up with the account of one parent. She makes statements such as, “Yet it is also possible—indeed, likely—that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures.” She claims that YA literature has become “too dark” and is likely to cause more harm than good to readers. Her entire investigative report of Young Adult literature is based on the sole account of a parent, Amy Freeman, who left a BN bookstore empty handed after finding, “It was all vampires and suicide and self-mutilation, this dark, dark stuff”.

As a reader of Young Adult literature and as a person with enough sense to see that books aren’t causing bad things to happen to the world, but rather, that the bad things in the world are causing books to reflect that, I will have to disagree with both Mrs. Gurdon and Mrs. Freeman. Young adult books challenge stereotypes, face prejudices, and put a light at the end of the tunnel for the teen that is terrified they may be trapped in the darkness forever. What people like this fail to realize is that pretending an issue doesn’t exist doesn’t solve problems, but instead, creates new ones.

One of the books mentioned in the article is the hugely successful Hunger Games series. Mrs. Gurdon describes the book as “hyper violent” and while that may true, I’m afraid she may have missed the marked yet again. The Hunger Games depicts a world not far from the world we live in. Did we as a nation not watch the towers fall on 9/11? Did we not hear the screams? Moreover, did we not as a nation rejoice in the death of the man behind it all? The Hunger Games exemplifies what could happen if too much power is put into the hands of the wrong person. Is that not the very reason we are fighting these wars? Is that not why not only the US but the world fought against Hitler? Have we not witnessed this ourselves and throughout history?

Unfortunately, we don’t all live in the old Walgreen’s commercial’s perfect world. The fact of the matter is that we live in a hard world, that’s getting harder every day. We face challenges daily and we must all learn to cope the best way we can. So if our way of coping comes through the reading of other’s problems that are greater than our own, is that not a suitable, if not preferable method? Are there not worse ways to cope?
So Mrs. Gurdon and Mrs. Freeman, while I would love for you to read this after doing so come to the realization that I am right and you are wrong I hold no such illusions. My hopes are instead to give the silent majority a voice and to do my part in stopping the loud mouth bully from gaining ground in a battle that has been one sided for far too long.

Note: If I ever actually start writing book reviews like I intend to this will be the blog I do that on.

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