….And who makes the decisions about what YAs published? Adults from start to finish. It’s always been that way. Always. Some publishers who do consult teens. That’s new. Social media’s allowed more teens to speak out about this genre that’s supposedly theirs. We’ve gone from a situation when YA was aimed at a teen audience via schools/libraries to one where it’s mainly aimed at adult readers. Once YA was aimed at teens and in some sense written *for* teens. But that’s less and less true. More honest to say it’s *about* teens. Teens are often imagined as a group that must be protected. Stuff aimed “at” them can be patronising. No swearing! No sex!”-Justine Larbalestier on Twitter.
Do not disparage or patronize me, I am no sheltered, innocent child. My “innocence” and “sweetness” was ironed out of me years ago, by the burning iron of the supposed superiority of the privileged.
Why do adults think they can somehow “protect” teenagers, and young adults (presumably college students, or recent graduates) from the real issues? Do they think we lose all our senses of perception of the real world as soon as they chuck us a decent smartphone? Children drooling over teeth rings, and slamming circles into holes shaped like a square? Oblivious? Ignorant? Please.
I am worn out by what I have endured, and the most aggravating thing is to hear about a privileged adult call the story of an intersectionally diverse teen unrealistic or too much. They really mean that they think our brains can’t handle it. (Fun scientific fact: Your brain isn’t actually fully developed until you reach your 25th birthday.) Our young brains can’t or shouldn’t have to handle our own struggle.
Maybe. Definitely. But we survive, and we thrive. I am sick of seeing books banned for having real life issues. The adults are not always right in this situation, no matter how much they think they are. I am sick of seeing books with expletives get banned as if expletives aren’t a constant in streets, and school hallways.
One example of a book that was banned for sexual nature and coarse language is Looking for Alaska. I find this quite aggravating because I actually consider one of the first books I ever read in a connection with mental illness, and self discovery. I felt the characters were authentic. Overall, I believe LFA is an important read for teens, and for this novel to be taken away from teens and/ or young adults who may need or want this story for something as simple as expletives, and sexual nature is unacceptable. Especially since realistically speaking, teenagers and young adults are no stranger to coarse language nor things of sexual nature. They aren’t primary school children.
We know the ugliness of this world and society, we live in it.
And in this world, it’s time to accept that teenagers and young adults sometimes/frequently deal with difficult things in their lives, and like it or not, those difficult things will change them.
There are a lot of teenagers that are creative, and intelligent, and will not be so quickly soothed or brainwashed by your aim to shelter them, but they will search out to pave a path for themselves. Teens are going to see the truth for themselves one way or another. They are no longer clay-like babies that you try so hard to hold onto, and shape and mold. They’re no longer the scared kindergartners clutching the hands of parents, or even the excited, apprehensive high school seniors preparing to enter college or university.
They can think for themselves. It is time for teenagers and young adults to choose what they need to see in books, even if people that are not the targeted audience choose to read the literature, it is time for TEENS and YOUNG ADULTS to choose the stories they want to define them, comfort them, and stories they choose for a didactic purpose.
As much as they want to, adults shouldn’t attempt to keep teens from growing up, changing, and learning how they want to live. They shouldn’t attempt to keep them from the real world; because from my personal experience, the real world is like an ice cold bucket of water waiting to splash on your head, make you yelp and wake the hell out of your sleep, or groggy state. They will have to wake up and grow up, eventually.They will not always be in the comfort of the homes of their mummies and daddies searching for a job after college, having their mummies and daddies pay their bills.
Teens know their own heartaches and troubles, let them choose what they need, because it isn’t always the adults that are the best to choose for them.
Wesaun is a teen book lion. She’s also an art enthusiast: poetry, theater, and fan art, as well as paintings/drawings. She
loves to be overenthusiastic over books and authors.
You can find her at her Twitter: @epicbooklover.