Confession: I joined Twitter a while ago because it was such a weird and awesome concept when it first started. I followed some friends and local people, but it was kind of boring after a while. While searching for new, interesting people to follow, I found a bunch of authors - specifically, young adult literature authors. Authors like Laurie Halse Anderson and Scott Westerfeld, both of whom I’d heard of before. I also came across Maureen Johnson, who is easily the most entertaining person I’ve ever followed on Twitter. EASILY. She’s funny, quirky, unpredictable, and has moved followers to raise THOUSANDS of dollars for Shelterbox, which provides shelters for people who have survived natural disasters (Japan earthquake and tsunami, Joplin tornadoes, etc.).
Basically, these three, and a few others who I’ve gotten to know via Twitter, really piqued my interest in YA literature and I couldn’t be more grateful. YA books today are amazing. There were very few books aimed at teens when I was a teenager, which is why I rarely read anything not assigned to me by my English teachers. It sounds crazy since I’m an English teacher and bookworm now, but I went through a looooong period of never reading for fun because there were no books that interested me (or so I thought, really there was just no one to show me books I might like).
Anyway. Yesterday, these and other authors and tons of YA readers lashed out on Twitter in response to this AWFUL book review by a writer at the Wall Street Journal. The article called “Darkness Too Visible” criticizes current YA books for being too gory, too dark, with no happy endings. The “writer” (I use that term loosely) says the descriptions of self-injury glorify the act and that the language in YA books is vulgar. Obviously this writer has no idea that many teens don’t get happy endings for their adolescent years. They have filthy mouths because they’re trying to gain their independence and define themselves. Many teens ARE abused, molested, neglected, contemplate suicide, self-injure, and have NO OUTLET. No one to listen. No one who understands. Maybe not even a friend who listens.