Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is realistic YA fiction just too sad?


I love to recommend books to teens. But I've been having a tough time moving much of the excellent recent YA fiction. I've been listening to the words teens use to describe realistic fiction and "problem novels" like Jumping Off Swings and Speak. Depressing. Sad. I actually tried to persuade a group of girls that Speak was a landmark work, "important," thus deserving props, if not affection. When you try to persuade readers after-the-fact of a book's worth, something is wrong.

While I have never been a fan of adult misery memoirs, the YA novels are gritty and realistic might just be "too much like life" for my readers. In the words of Women's Studies survey courses everywhere, I come at books from a position of privilege, both age and income related.  I like to peek into the lives of teens when I read, while my teens might want to read for diversion from their own realitites. Something for reviewers and prize juries everywhere to bear in mind, and quite possibly the reason full-fledged fantasy and its analogs in the genres, like the Simon Pulse imprint, are so popular at my school.

1 comment:

  1. Now that i think about that, i realize i am one of those girls.
    I feel foolish for not realizing that there is actually something more to the depressing aspect of those realitic books. It's about something much more than the 'depressing or sad' aspect, it's about how they reach the end of their struggles and the ways people help them. OR The way the problems affect their life as a whole.
    thanks for bringing me to the realization!