Sunday, September 20, 2009

Young Adult

We're finally starting one of our big essays in my English Comp class: Exposition. I've decided to exposit on young adult novels. There's a common misconception among adults who don't understand YA, and that's that YA needs to be dumbed down, or watered down. Not true, and that aggravates me.

I have several sources, and one source that really interests me is Vannessa Thorpe's article. You can read it here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/jul/05/tender-morsels-childrens-novel-sex

There's several things I find unsettling about this article. One: that parents think the content is unsuitable for [teenagers]. Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting to shelter your precious baby from the evils of the world, but those sheltered kids are often the ones who snap when they get out on their own. Parents can find the content unsuitable for their child, but from reading the article, I've deduced this: parents find this kind of content inappropriate for any age of teen, and that bothers me. It's my belief that teenagers have it tougher now than the teens of my parents time. We see more, hear more, experience more--and not necessarily good things. YA mirrors the realities teens face, and edgy content is trying to show teens that. But some adults obviously feel that YA novels need to be watered down kiddy books about what Jane wants to wear for prom, and the entire plot revolves around Jane's trials and tribulations of trying to find a dress.

Here's the second thing that bothers me: notice how I put teenagers in brackets. I put teenagers in brackets because throughout the entire article, they kept referring to young adult books as children's books. Though teenagers are technically considered children still, when novels refer to children, they mean children. To call teenagers children is ludicrous. You would not see a child reading a book about a rape victim or a girl trying to give herself an abortion because of an accidental pregnancy. No, children read middle grade books, young reader books, chapter books, or even picture books. They do not read YA. There's nothing stopping them from reading YA, but YA is not aimed at children.

Lastly, it drives me nuts that there are adults out there still ignorant of YA. There was a book on amazon (I wish I could recall the title), that one parent felt was inappropriate for children under 18. Hello! There are ages on YA novels for a reason. What one teen may be able to handle, another teen may not. Parents need to learn what their teens find inappropriate before deeming what they find inappropriate. I know I'm not a parent and shouldn't be directing parents how to parent, but it's unfair to a teen who knows so much more than their parents did when they were kids, and yet their parents still want to shelter them from reading books with content that probably isn't as disturbing as what the teen knows. Some teens can handle rape. Others cannot.

1 comment:

quothjessamy said...

Well, I think a larger issue is that YA is a diffuse and poorly defined age group, ranging from 12 year olds to 18/19 year olds ... and that is part of the reason these articles keep referring to YA readers as "children", and part of the reason they're concerned. What's appropriate for a 16 or 17 year old isn't necessarily appropriate or compelling for a twelve year old.