So last week the Wall Street Journal ran an article about YA fiction and started a firestorm of online debate on the subject. If you haven’t read the article (which I doubt) it basically said that most of the YA fiction out there is too dark and inappropriate for its audience. You can read it here.
People are angry, especially people who write and read a lot of YA fiction. The article makes it sound like YA readers aren’t savvy enough to handle adult themes in stories. If the writer had their way, YA fiction would be little more than really long children’s stories. Nothing too bad would happen and every story would have a happy ending.
I think that’s actually the article’s author’s problem. They assume that the people reading YA are children. Very few children read YA. Teenagers read YA. Young adults read YA. Grown adults read YA. And teenagers, and adults generally have enough real world experience to read about the real world. Life is dark sometimes. There’s violence and sex and swearing all over the place. All you have to do is walk down the street to see it. Burying our heads in the sand won’t make it go away.
The positive part of this story is that it has brought hundreds of people together to defend YA fiction. People are banding together because they don’t want to see stories they love thought of as little more than poison for the children of the world. People have been unifying to defend the fiction that helped them and that’s a beautiful thing. The ultimate message of the movement is that YA Saves. And I believe it does.