Wednesday, November 23, 2011

YA Saves

Today is week four of the I Love Dark YA Blogfest hosted by the Yatopia quartet. It's #YASAVES week in which participants are asked to blog about how a dark YA book made an impact in your life.

But I don't really want to.

See, it's true that YA saves. It's true that certain books can make a huge impact in a person's life (a young adult or even a older one). It's true that they can bring eye opening understanding and I want people to know this.

It's just that talking about my personal experience tends to get me a little... emotional, shall we say and me getting emotional usually leads to me being either (a) super surly as I attempt to deny the fact that I have feelings that occasionally makes salt water leak from my eyes or (b) super sad wherein I have to fight the urge to retreat to my bed, crawl beneath the covers and not come out until one of my dogs tells me they have to pee (I have very smart dogs.).

And since I have to go to work today, I can't really do either of these things.

But I will tell you the two novels. I've mentioned them in this blog before. Twice in the last month, both in connection with this particular blogfest. But I mention them a lot anyway because not only are they a master class in how to construct a story and create characters, they had a huge impact on me personally. They are:




Both novels are by the amazingly talented Laurie Halse Anderson. If you've read them then you know what they're about (and you should also maybe know that I didn't have these experiences. Someone very close to me did.). If you haven't read them, you really should. Even if you don't think you like YA.

You hear so much about dark YA ( It wasn't all too long ago that Speak came under fire) and how it's bad for kids to read stories that don't involve sunshine and candy hearts or whatever (though I suppose candy hearts should be considered dangerous...too many of them will lead to cavities after all.) and picture perfect teens who've never been led off (or pulled off) the straight and narrow.

But you know what? Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. All too often does that happen and we need to be able to understand and deal with these things and sometimes the written word can help.

Shit. I'm getting emotional. Time to wrap this up.

I feel very strongly about this. Which is why, back when I was teaching, a miracle on the order of loaves and fishes occurred: I was given the opportunity to order new books for my classroom. I immediately asked for Speak (I don't think Wintergirls had been released yet). My boss asked what it was about and so I told him. Afterward, he was a little reluctant to order the books and was even more reluctant to have me teach it to a group of students.

"Something like that," he said. "You just don't know what it'll lead to..."

"If me teaching that book leads to even one kid coming forth about something that's happened to them," I said (as I was getting a little emotional), "then it's absolutely worth it. If it leads to one kid to have a better understanding what's happened to a friend then it's absolutely worth it."

Because YA Saves.


  1. This is amazing and absolutely right. I have so much to say about this. Today, my sister, a school librarian, told me if my book ever sold, she didn't think school teachers would add it to the curriculum bc they are too worried about being sued. This nearly broke my heart.

  2. "If teaching that book leads to even one kid coming forth about something that's happened to them then it's absolutely worth it."

    I couldn’t agree more! You’ve picked wonderfully valid, very important books that will both teach and entertain young adult readers. Way to Rock Dark YA!

  3. I've had my eye on Wintergirls, but I didn't know about the other one. Now, I'll be adding both to my TBR list. School administrators can pretend that we live in a world of sunshine and candy, but we know better. Teens know better also. They want to read books that speak to their experiences.

  4. I loved Speak, though it's been a while since I read it. I must put Wintergirls on my TBR list. This is a great post. You even have me shedding a little tear. Good work.

  5. Wintergirls is on my top three favorite EVER. LOVE.

  6. I haven't read Wintergirls yet, but Speak is in my top 10 of best YA books.

    I think it's important to have literature that young people can relate to. I wish there were books I could have fully related to when I was young. It would have been nice to read about characters who were going through similar situations like mine.

  7. I haven't read either of these before, but they sound great. I really need to check them out.

  8. my TBR list is getting longer by the day and well done you for making me want to add Speak and wintergirls to it. I am sorry if I didn't notice how amazing you sound and how flattered I am that you joined my blog. (Running away to join yours...running back...) you're funny, i mean witty, you know that, right? it was very entertaining to read your last two posts. Loved the dialogues of you and that customer and you and your friend. By all means, let her do that sandwich board advertising for you, bad advertising is still advertising! ;-)