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Let me preface this post by saying that there are many badly written YA books out there that supposedly "deal" with sensitive subjects in the most ham-handed way possible. There are books like the Twilight series, which reinforces some fairly negative female stereotypes. There are books, as in all genres, that are Too Much-- or as my dear mother says whenever she sees something in literature or on television that pushes her perception of how much sex/violence/profanity should be shown, "muchness."

However, things like this recent Wall Street Journal article are "muchness" in their own right, with its rather nasty attack on the "darkness" in YA fiction.

I have news for you: the world is dark sometimes, especially for the audience these writers are catering to. Good fiction is just another way of telling a truth, and acknowledging that there IS darkness and there IS pain is the best precursor to saying that there IS hope. I believe adolescents need that; I know that I, at 18, still have times where I feel pretty damn dark. I have never once read a book that made me feel worse. Well, actually, I've read two, both on high school reading lists, both accepted in many areas as classic literature: Jude The Obscure and Grapes of Wrath. The Hunger Games? No. I felt like Suzanne Collins was pulling back a curtain, showing some true emotional depth behind all the violence and pain. Showing me hope.

And let's face it: parents and teachers should not be dictating what someone can and can't read after a certain point. You learn your own tastes, learn what you think is good and what isn't, learn what you should glean from fiction and what should never be real. It's an independence that prepares you for your life as a reasonable adult who makes decisions and ponders the world. It's something I've had since I was 13, and it's encouraged me past things that I thought would break me.

YA really does save.