Saturday, May 21, 2011

Author Alex Flinn Wages a Beastly arguument for YA Realistic Fiction

Alex Flinn is best known as the author of "Breathing Underwater" and most recently, the Beauty and the Beast spin "Beastly".  In her blog this week, she talks about her disgust for journalists and critics that protest realistic Teen fiction.  Her argument makes TONS of sense, so I thought I'd share a bit of it here. 
So this is the article that's pissing me off today. And the reviews to which it refers, blasting two new dating violence "problem novels" (not meant as a pejorative term, btw, at least not on my part).  It is something of an annual-or-so tradition that the New York Times (or, occasionally, the Wall Street Journal) will write an article, the subject of which is "Why Are There So Many Dark Novels for Teens . . . Lock Up Your Babies!"

When I published my first novel, this was SOMEWHAT true, yet it still annoyed me. Now, it is by no means true. And why does it seem to be okay to write dark, depressing novels as long as they aren't realistic? Most of the books on bookstore shelves today are NOT realistic, dark problem novels, which leads me to wonder . . . why is it okay for teens to read books about vampires, but when those books deal with actual problems that actual teens face, parents need to be warned about them?

These days, a writer is, frankly, LUCKY to be able to get a "problem novel" published in a climate where Jane Austen . . . and Zombies are viewed as a more valuable subject. This also means that a teen who wants to read such a novel (and it is generally NOT teens in the gifted class) is lucky to find one.

Like, okay, I KNOW this writer probably comes from a lovely two-parent family where she was coddled and encouraged, got a 6.0 gpa and eventually went to Harvard Princeton (I just looked it up), but does it really hurt her in some way that there might be one or two novels for kids who don't fall into that category?
Click here to read the rest of her rant.


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