The Wilderness of ‘Young Adult Fiction’

I was in Barnes & Noble yesterday, picking up a Valentine’s Day gift for my wife. This freeze-your-butt-off-every-cotton-pickin’-day Global Warming is getting her down. Maybe Hercule Poirot could cheer her up.

Naturally, I paused to look at the offerings in the Young Adults section. As usual, I wish I hadn’t.

For reasons which may be supernatural, for all I know, grown-up authors are frantically churning out books about sexual confusion, social pathologies, self-destructive fads like “cutting” yourself, seasoned with depictions of teens using “magic” to circumvent adult authority and get anything and everything they want. This is what they think youngsters should be reading. Why? All we get is a lot of half-baked twaddle about “you shouldn’t try to hide from kids what the world is like.”

So again we run head-on into the sophomoric credo that whatever is evil, ugly, or painful is “realistic,” and whatever is good, beautiful, or wholesome is just a delusion. This is how stupid people pretend they’re smart.

So what have you got for your children and grandchildren to read? And maybe more to the point, what are their “teachers” and school librarians urging them to read? You’d better look into that–you might get a rather nasty surprise.

There are books out there–and have always been, so far–that offer a positive vision: books that don’t seek to fill the teenage reader’s head with toxic garbage. You ought to be looking for them.

And when you find some, please let me know.

3 comments on “The Wilderness of ‘Young Adult Fiction’

  1. There really is a lot of not so good materials out there being fed to our youth. The values we were raised with have been condemned as not PC, so many authors just go with the flow.

    I appreciate your books as wholesome content for young readers but these are a rarity.

    It’s all going downhill fast. Our world is declining into madness day by day and every aspect reflects this. Just a few minutes ago I was “treated” to some current TV drama and, IMO, no self-respecting person would expose a goldfish to this garbage, not to mention expose children or family members to it.

    I used to hold out hope that most of my family would see the light, but I’m starting to have my doubts. Some family members seem to be moving in the other direction.

    As in the days of Noah . . .

  2. Actually, when I was a teen (this was in the 1950s), I was reading mostly Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Tennyson, etc., plus a lot more Dorothy Parker than was good for me. But the “teen” or “young adult” fiction that I remember reading alongside it was mostly about young people learning how to become responsible adults — a kind of Horatio Alger For Girls, you might say. There was a series about a girl going through college, becoming more mature with each volume. (And by “mature” I mean more responsible and more rational.) There were other series about girls starting out in professions and getting ahead in them. Although in those days the professions tended to be limited to nursing, teaching, or office work of one kind or another, and the series usually ended with the heroines getting married (but not necessarily leaving the profession), the heroines did keep learning and maturing, and even rising in their fields. Meanwhile, they also learned domestic skills, such as how to budget, shop, cook, and clean for themselves — BEFORE getting married, so it wasn’t just a matter of becoming housewives. It was about learning how to stand on their own two feet.

    In other words, “young adult” fiction when I was young, really did treat teens as young adults, not as perpetual children or adolescents. I suppose there was some junk as well, but as far as I can remember, the best sellers and the most prominent books in the libraries were the ones in which the young adults were really incipient adults.

    Time for some troll to show up and call me an old fogey for thinking that growing up is somehow a good thing. Which will prove my point and yours, Lee, as well as UnKnowable’s.

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