Slambook: Our inner mean girl comes out to play. See More...

In Soviet Russia, Books Censor You!

Breaking News: YA lit is not all sunshine and puppies. (But what about the children? WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!)

In Soviet Russia, Books Censor You!

Christ, America. Mommy can't leave you alone for ONE MINUTE while she has some caviar-flavored vodka before you totally go batshit insane, breaking Mommy's favorite vase and sticking your fingers into light sockets.

In case this is the only YA blog you read, or, in other words, in case you are a Parent or Significant Other of an FYAer, you might have missed the complete logic fail that was the Wall Street Journal this weekend. I mean, the WSJ is often a logic fail, cause, like, guys? It's just math; I don't understand why this is confusing to you? But specifically, the WSJ decided to tell us all what Young Adult literature is all about, because that relates to the stock market in some way I have yet to realize because jet lag has eaten my brain.

That's okay, people-who-love-FYA-more-than-Twitter. We're here to break it down for you.

So, check it. There I am on Sunday, trying to enjoy my fried chicken cutlet for breakfast (honestly, this country is so weird, y'all) when all of a sudden my email starts going crazy with links to this WSJ article. (What can I say? My friends are on top of things.)

The article starts out with poor Amy Freedman, Actual Mother Of A Teen, feeling sad because the only books she sees on the YA shelves of Barnes and Noble are scary books that will hurt her poor wittle child's feelings. There were NO other choices! NONE! The only thing on those book shelves were evil books about people who commit suicide, have sex, or want to go to college! WHERE WERE THE BOOKS ABOUT GIRLS GETTING PIMPLES?

Oh, Amy Freedman, I feel ya. One time I walked into my closet and I couldn't find any boots, only slutty, slutty flip flops. I was so disheartened! How was I going to make it in the world with only slutty flip-flops?! I WAS GOING TO FREEZE TO DEATH. My toes would fall off and then my legs and then eventually I'd be like Billie in My Sweet Audrina, a reference that you, ironically-named Amy Freedman, will not get because you probably don't read this website and therefore will not be enjoying my upcoming review of that V.C. Andrews monstrosity.

I didn't know what to do, honestly. Sure, I guess I could wear my slutty flip-flops, but then, heavens forbid, probably someone would have tried to accost me (which obvs would have been my fault, since I chose to wear such slutty flip-flops) and I would be hurt and damaged and incapable of healing. I couldn't walk out like that! Was I going to have to go without shoes at all?

But! No! A miracle occurred! I walked into my closet and peered onto another shelf and there! There were my nice, chaste, warm boots, ready for wearing to my Winter Purity Ball! OH HAPPY DAY.

But even if I didn't like those boots? I would have just ordered some new ones from Zappos cause the internet exists and you can buy lots of things that meet your particular fancy! Just as you could have done with your kid's books, instead of crying to Informed Wall Street Journal Correspondent, Meghan Cox Gurdon! If you want to find a book in which a girl rides a unicorn into a forest and then makes friends with a lion subbing in for Jesus and then gets her first period, whatever; I BET THERE IS A BOOK FOR THAT! If not, give it, like, a WEEK and I promise you something will be self-published.

So Meghan Cox Gurdon, who is totally my least favorite person named Meghan, BY A LONG SHOT, then chose to write this article bemoaning the state of YA, how parents today can't find any good books with which to keep their children in the small bubble of few ideas that is their very raison d'etre. And how everything in YA is dark and awful and scary and not at all fit for teenagers whose bodies are rebelling against them, have probably lost 80-100% of their friends in the past two years, and who often find themselvesbeing awful people for no reason at all.

It seems that Gurdon's main complaint is that, well, YA books just make it sound like life is so hard, y'all. And, as we all know, life is roses and cupcakes and if we expose our young people to depravity, they will become depraved. Violence does not exist except where we seek to create it! Rape is not common unless you insist upon hanging out with people who have been raped! Parents do not abuse their children and, if they do, then we still shouldn't have to read about it because I bet those beaten up kids don't even know how to read. And nobody would masturbate if you guys would stop telling them how to do it!

If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader---or one who seeks out depravity---will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.

I just . . . I can't even pretend anymore, you guys. Maybe it's the jet lag speaking but her logic does not resemble earth logic. Life is great so give everyone a Coke and a smile? I mean, that's . . . that's basically what she's saying, right? Does she actually believe that YA books reflect a world so out of touch with reality as to become unrecognizable; a world that no one could ever see existing, ever? Is she saying YA books are the literature version of a Donald Trump Presidential Ticket?

I think that is what she's saying. I think she's saying that the dark subject matter of SOME YA (not most! Some!) is pure fantasy, that no teen has ever experienced any of the same angst or pain as the characters in YA.

I think it is awesome that Meghan Cox Gurdon has never found herself alone, or friendless, or tortured, or bullied, or lonely, or sad, or misunderstood, or assaulted, or raped, or orphaned, or violated, or addicted, or full of self-loathing, or full of unrequited longing, or having to care for a parent when she is the child, or having self-doubt or having a life, for all its ups and downs. I hope she never experiences any of that, because by and large, it mostly sucks. But to pretend it doesn't exist in the lives of others is foolish and insulting, and to glibly say that teens would just be happier if they'd read Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret (and don't get me wrong; I love Judy Blume like a bawdy, awesome aunt) is so narrow and short-sighted that I pity her. But mostly I pity her children.

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
K