|BibliophiliaOriginally uploaded by Stefanie Ryan Photography|
YA author Justine Larbalestier posted a lovely rant on her blog called Cranky about what it’s like to be a YA author whose edgy books have something in them that one person or another objects to–bits of darkness or pain, language, etc. Larbalestier’s post is entertaining and informative, and I think it’ll interest not only other YA writers, but also readers.
Larbalestier blows away the myth that YA writers write bleak/dark/edgy YA fiction–or fiction that has some drugs, sex, or swearing–just to be shocking, or for marketing. She writes: “Newsflash: the inclusion of swearing and sex and drugs and the other things that render YA books less than squeaky often, nay, usually, has the opposite effect. Book clubs won’t pick them up, Wal-mart and Target won’t stock them, nor will many school libraries, and lots of conservative parents won’t let their teens buy them.” Of course, some edgy YA books do sell well, as Larbalestier pointed out, but “The YA writers I know think long and hard about including anything “controversial” because nine times out of ten it will reduce their sales, not increase them.”
I really like Larbalestier’s honesty. And I find it strange that some people would attack edgy YA fiction. We need all kinds of books–light and dark, funny and sad, fantasy and reality–and readers are free to choose what appeals to them, what they need at the time. There are teens right now going through painful experiences, to varying degrees. Some will want to turn to a voice that understands them, a book that offers them validation, lets them know they are not alone, and others will want to turn to something that takes them completely outside their world and experience. Both are valid.
I went through some pretty awful abuse growing up–and books were the safest place I could turn to. Books saved me. Edgy realistic AND fantasy. I needed them both. And I know I hope that other teens, now, find that same place to turn to–books. So Larbalestier’s rant makes me feel good on many levels. As a reader. As a writer. Thank you, Justine!