Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's Okay If You Want to Read YA Fiction, And It's Okay If I Don't

A thoughtful, passionate young lady named Jeyn Roberts recently wrote an article defending Young Adult fiction. I see these cropping up everywhere. You'd think that YA fiction was being persecuted like first century Christians, yet it's probably the #1 selling genre.

Here's the link to her blog post. I suggest you read it, maybe leave her a comment if you feel so inclined. Of course, right off the bat I wasn't crazy about her blog post title, because I don't like anyone telling me what I NEED to do. I'm an adult, and apart from taxes and a few other things, I'll decide what I need.

She seems to make no distinction between YA and children's books, yet then she seems to be arguing that YA books are no different than adult books, and doesn't talk about children's books at all. She says many, many things, defending the things she loves from every angle she can think of. One claim she makes is that people grow up too fast. I wonder how many books she reads by or about people over seventy years old.

Here's the comment I left her.

"There's a difference between being childlike and being childish. There's also a difference between childhood and adolescence. They can't be treated in the same way. And, I don't think people in our culture grow up too fast, I don't think many grow up at all, and emotional immaturity is a huge problem. But perhaps they do lose their childlike sense of wonder, and that's a problem too.
I don't read much YA fiction, partly because it is supposedly told from the viewpoint of a teenager, which doesn't interest me much anymore. Ironically, most is not really from a teenager's viewpoint, but an adult's version of a teenager's viewpoint, which interests me even less. So, I'm not sure why it's so incredibly important for everyone to read it (Though I have, and liked some, especially Phillip Pullman's work, and some other fantasy. But reading about someone in highschool is like a bad dream come true. That's the last place I want to return to.). The best fiction of any genre transcends that genre; and the worst of any genre is crap, regardless of the genre.
I suppose this constant defense of YA books lately is because people in the literary establishment have less respect for them, I'm not sure. It's probably the best-selling fiction genre, so I don't know what the issue is. If people want to read YA fiction books, that's fine. There's no need to defend that. But I think that if someone does not want to read YA books, that should be okay too and they shouldn't be harangued for it."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Should Adults Be Embarrassed to Read Young Adult Fiction?

Ruth Graham has been attacked for her article disapproving adults reading teen literature. I finally read her article and thought, in some ways, that it's not as bad as it's being made out to be. I've read several young adults books, enjoyed them and am neither embarrassed to have read them (as she suggests I should be), nor feel that my ego/person is threatened by the fact that she disapproves. Hers is just the opinion of one person, one whom I don't even know. I think she makes some good points and has some valid concerns, specifically, that books written for adults approach life stories in a much more complex and sophisticated manner, which they should, because adults experience a different life and experience life differently; and if you're reading only or mainly young adult fiction, you're reading something written for someone with that limited experience and perspective (which is the point).

Where she makes the mistake is of being judgmental and making silly blanket statements like: "Adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children." Of course they shouldn't. In fact, there are wonderful books written for children that I would suggest all adults read. And there are "Young Adult" books that transcend the genre and seem to be written for any age, like Pullman's The Golden Compass or The Hobbit. She seemed to be mainly talking about "real-life" teen books, not fantasy books. I can't comment on that at all, because I've never read one of those kinds of teen books. (As for fantasy in general, Michael Chabon has made a much more eloquent defense of genre fiction than I ever could: Generally, I don't think people should ever feel embarrassed about reading books, maybe only embarrassed if they're not.

I think it would have been better if she had avoided generalized, simplistic, inflammatory and/or judgmental statements. And it would be better if the people attacking her article did the same. Then maybe some common ground and new insights would be found that would benefit everyone. Instead it turns into yet another American war of words: I'm feel this way so I'm right and you must be wrong/you're wrong and you've offended my feelings and my very personality by stating your opinion. The truth is, we learn nothing from being "right."

The Buddha said: “Our enemies are our greatest teachers.” 

There's a very nice blog about this by Marcella Corroeli Jager, a fellow writer:

You can read the Slate article about Young Adult Fiction for yourself here:

For a thoughtful and impassioned rebuttal to the Slate article, you can read my friend Liz Thurmond's blog post here:

Peace all,