Young Adult Fiction Can Change Lives

Yes, I, Rachel am back being the advocate for young adult fiction, something I will always be and do my entire life. Thankfully, I’m not doing it alone. One of my favorite authors, Maureen Johnson, spoke to The Guardian about why YA is beneficial. I love her.

Some choice quotes from the interview:

“The reason [YA] has taken off so much is that it’s good. I think it’s as simple as that. It’s exciting.”

“These books change lives in a very positive way, an almost universally positive way.”

“It has its detractors and its detractors generally don’t know much about it. [They] tend to cherry-pick five books, half-read them, and say ‘All of this is nonsense.’ It’s not nonsense, it’s good stuff.”

It should be noted that Johnson’s books have been banned from several school libraries by the aforementioned detractors. As Johnson stated, they half-read her books. The biggest one in question (and also my favorite of hers) is The Bermudez Triangle, which is about three girls that have been best friends since they were very young and what happens when two of those friends begin to date each other. The red flag instantly went up as soon as the word “gay” was sighted, but the parents that fought against this book claimed it was obscene because of (gay) sex scenes. There are no sex scenes in the book, between either the two girls or the third friend and her boyfriend. There is nothing beyond kissing, but the parents were desperate to have such a book banned from their children’s lives. This kind of thing makes me sad.

But interviews like this make me happy. Rock on, Maureen!

(Also, you should check out Maureen’s blog. She doesn’t update super often, but it’s one of the funniest things you’ll ever read. I was actually introduced to her books through her blog; I read it for a good eight months before I read any of her books. While her blog posts are great, her books are even better.)

Posted on March 22, 2012, in News, Rachel, Young Adult Fiction. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Oh for heavens sake! Do people really fear that if their kids read about gay protagonists, they will become gay? What if they are starting to think they might be – maybe some positive characters will help them overcome the prejudice of their peers. This make me quite cross that people would want to censor these books. It sounds like te issues are dealt with carefully and tactfully.
    By contrast, I went to an anglican girls school, and I found in the school library a book called ‘A melon for ecstasy’, which was about a man who liked to make love to trees. A curious read – I think it must have got in there by accident.

    • Unfortunately, I really think they do. In addition to gay protagonists, it seems people are afraid that *any* “bad” thing that appears in a book- whether it be drugs, sex, alcohol, swearing, self-harm, etc.- will influence their child to do those things themselves. I don’t understand it; I have read books with all of those things in them and I was never inclined to do any of those things because of books, and I highly doubt that I’m in the minority here. Kids (and people in general) who read books on a regular basis are probably smart enough to figure out that just because Billy in The Book of the Year jumped off a bridge, it’s not a suggestion for them to do it, too.

      I completely agree with you about characters and books helping kids overcome prejudices. For me, The Bermudez Triangle was one of those books. While I was never prejudiced against gay people, I didn’t know what my feelings were toward them when I was younger. When a lot of my friends started coming out, TBT helped me figure out how *they* might be feeling, as well as how to support them from my side of the situation. Any author worth their salt is going to approach an inportant issue with care and intelligence.

      Regarding the tree book- Ha! I wonder if it was a prank? Or rather, someone who knew that everything should be read.

      • I have no idea whether it was a prank – but I’ve never forgotten it! 🙂
        I agree with you completely though – reading about his proclivities in no way made me want to try it out.

  2. Words do two major things: They provide food for the mind and create light for understanding and awareness. Jim Rohn

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