Sunday, June 12, 2011


I thought I'd repost from an earlier LJ entry I made last week on the whole @wsj YA article.  It caused a lot of uproar and comments in Twitter land. Here's the article:

Also not long after Gurdon was interviewed here:

I read the article and had to roll my eyes. I grew up in a mostly religious home(well my mother anyway) and went to church every Sunday. In the meantime I was being abused by my father. I knew what he was doing was wrong and that something wasn't quite right with him. The one time I went and told a so-called friend, the next day she told me she had to get another friend as her father, who was in the bishopric of our church, told her, "No good girl says those disgusting things about her father."

I was the bad girl.

For years I thought I was to blame for the abuse. It was books that helped me. The Martin Luther King Library in South Sacramento, Ca was my savior during this dark time of my life. Books like THE OUTSIDERS and authors like Judy Blume also spoke to me.

Later, I was asked to share my story. I've written poetry dealing with my abuse. Others though have told me to just get over it. That it is my responsibility to only share uplifting materials with teens.

I can't help but remember when I was at the darkest point of my life. When I tried to kill myself as I couldn't deal with the abuse and holding these secrets anymore. I also think of how some books helped me during those times. How I wished Ellen Hopkins had been around. Her books are powerful and tug at the truth. A truth some adults want to hide.

I read this from that same article and cringe:

...Yet it is also possible—indeed, likely—that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures...

Once again, some think if you don't talk about these issues, that maybe they'll go away. How can talking about them, normalize them? I don't get it. When my father was abusing me, that's all I heard. "Don't talk about it." "Just get over it" "You're strong" and even "God choose you to come to that family to help them".

No, these stories need to be told. There are others out there who live in shame, feel they are to blame, and even are bad girls or boys. These books are a life preserver to them.

There are other books out there for teens. If you don't want to read an edgier book that addresses sensitive topics, well, that's your choice. But don't take them away from others. These books are a light for those in a dark place.


  1. Kim,
    You're right that these stories need to be told.

    It's also true that these books are not for all teens. A parent may feel the need to regulate what a child reads and a teen will put down a book that doesn't speak to her or that she is not ready for.

    That said. Sometimes books that fall into that category are on required reading lists or part of a curriculum. Sometimes a parent objects to their child being required to read the book. When that happens there is often an outcry of censorship. (And to be fair, sometimes the parent wants the book removed from the required list instead of simply wanting their child given an alternative book to read.)

    I think we have to remember to be consistent. In this case everyone is saying it's important for the person who needs it - but if you don't want to read it - okay. Earlier in the SPEAK controversy, if I remember correctly, the same people were saying it was important for the book to be part of the curriculum because it discusses important topics.

    But the message can't be: It's okay there are dark books for teens because teens can choose to read them or not, but we have them as part of the curriculum, so they have to read them.

    And it's not that it's not true - we shouldn't have to shy away from difficult subjects in our schools - but to me it looks like a mixed message.

    That said - there is a place for all kinds of books and luckily there are all kinds of books filling those places.

  2. Yes, you nailed it. There should be balance. Also I do believe a parent should have the right to decide which books are right for their child. It's their responsibility as parents to know what's out there. What got me in the one radio interview was this mother describing her ten-year-old reading BREAKING DAWN. I thought, what is her ten-year-old doing reading that book?

    I guess it just bothers me that some people go overboard and try to force their beliefs/thoughts about certain books on all of us. I do know that so-called dark YAs need to be out there for those teens who need to read them. How I wished they'd been there when I was a teen going through a very difficult time in my own life. I hate to think others who'd been through similar things and worse might not have the opportunity to read such books from great authors like Ellen Hopkins(who's book BURN moved me so much) to other books like SPEAK.

    But that's just me.

    Kim Baccellia