It’s nice to see teen literature get some good press these days. Most articles are about how books for teens are making us all go to hell in a hand basket. So, why does a positive article have to get things so very, very wrong?
But… (there’s always a but, right?) There is so much more to teen literature than the trashy fun stuff! There is SERIOUS LITERATURE out there written just for teens, and I’m talking about a lot more than Catcher in the Rye.
I think one of the things that irks me most about this article is that it even discusses some of this literature (such as Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which has significant Printz buzz) but, in the context of the article, makes it all seem like some guilty-pleasure-CW-trash-fest…
If all teen literature were like Gossip Girl, then yes, we would be going to hell in a hand basket faster than we could say “Bergdorf’s,” but, it’s not.
M.T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation Vol 1: the Pox Party tells the story of human experimentation in during the American Revolution–written completely in eighteenth century English. Voyeuristic subway reading, it is not.
Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief is a wonderful tale of survival and courage during World War II, narrated by Death. I cried so hard at the ending, I woke my husband out of a deep sleep.
Mal Peet’s Tamar is another World War II story about the Dutch resistance and the tension of sheer boredom, as well as the scars war still leaves in modern times.
Geert Spillebeen’s Kipling’s Choice tells of the final moments of Jack Kipling as he lies dying in WWI.
Linzi Glass’s The Year the Gypsies Came is a moving coming-of-age tale set in apartheid South Africa–told from the privileged white point-of-view.
Sold by Patricia McCormick tells the story, in a series of poems, of a young Nepalese girl sold into child prostitution in India.
And then there is the fluff–the outrageously funny Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, teenage cheerleading witch (the magical kind) blues in Salem Witch Tryouts, sigh-inducing love stories in Enthusiasm and Boy Meets Boy.
And yes, there is the “trash.”
Teen literature has just as many genres and quality levels as adult literature. Let’s enjoy all of it, and not get confused that it’s all the same.
And, if you don’t know where to start, check out RADAR’s quiz… (the book being read on the front page is the fantastic Goose Girl by Shannon Hale–an amazing retelling of the Grimm fairy tale.)