book reviews…

A recent book review in the Wall Street Journal has caused a major upheaval in the YA children’s lit world. Meghan Cox Gurdon wrote about the ‘dark’ topics in YA lit. I can’t help but wonder why there is so much defense in play over this article? One well-published, well-respected author suggested on FB that the WSJ’s editorial section should be shut down. Another author calling the article crap.

Well. So much for free speech, I guess.  For respecting the opinion of others. Of thinking that there may be another side to an issue. Or, does that count only if you are on the same side?

I guess what I just don’t get is why do these writers feel the NEED for defense, almost to the point of bullying this one author, this one paper.

Why did so many jump into the fray? Blogs were written. Facebook pages were updated. Comments were left at WSJ, and other sites. Writer after writer, reader after reader saying that bringing these subjects out in the open is good. That teenagers need to know that there are others like themselves. What ever the issue. Okay, I get that. There is a lot of horror in the world. I am saddened each time I realize that these books mean that even one child is suffering for simply being a child in the wrong place at the wrong time. Would that this not be so!

What Ms. Gurdon asks is, does it have to be so ‘lurid’? Does it have to be so detailed? Does there have to be so much of it? And,most importantly, what’s a parent to do?

Yes. Ms. Gurdon does make some judgements on the stories she’s read. That’s her job. She reviews books for WSJ.

Parents have a job, too, and that’s what I took from this article. As a parent, I have taken responsibility for bringing a life into the world. That life counts.  I understood that it was my task, in raising two girls, not only to help them grow to adulthood, but to help them become active, thinking, participating members of this society. Whether they bought into my philosophies, religion or values, or not. What I wanted was to show them what I thought was important and to help them make decisions for themselves. NOT make the decisions for them, but also, make sure they felt safe enough, informed enough and honest enough to make decisions and live by them. It was my job but provide the opportunity for them to see how decisions are made, what the consequences of decisions are and how to live with those consequences. For me this meant not only reading the same books and watching the same movies, but talking to them about the ‘message’ therein. I couldn’t be with my girls all the time, and I didn’t want to be. But I did want them to have a base.

I wonder all the commentators understand that Ms. Gurdon is a believer in freedom of expression AND, equally as important, freedom of choice.

This was one article. One paper. Which makes it even more inexplicable as to why the need to jump for the defense of this YA genre.  Are all these writers, readers, bloggers, etc. so imperiled by this one story? Why?


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