Friday, January 1, 2010

yi h8 ya

I hate YA.

Let me explain.

I hate YA for many of the same reasons I hated being a teenager: there are all these external expectations on who you are "supposed" to be, and, simultaneously, you're trying to figure that out on your own.

Okay. Try this experiment. Close your eyes.

Wait. First, get someone to read this to you aloud. Or else, just pretend to close your eyes.

Now, let's make a Venn diagram (I know... Venn Diagrams are the new black). The paper the diagram is on is "People." Now, draw a circle for "Children," and another for "Adults."

Unless you're a moron, those circles won't be touching at all.

Now, draw a circle for "Young Adults."

Again... moron test: that circle should be entirely enclosed within "Adults."

If you're a writer, you have to realize that there are certain mile markers we pass in order to become adult. It doesn't necessarily happen at a predetermined chronological age, either. But it does happen. Bam! You're an adult.

Young adults are inexperienced (because -- duh! they're "young") at dealing with certain things, so they make mistakes. It's forgivable in most cases.

Okay, now here's a reason why I hate YA: A lot of people have this notion that YA literature should steer away from certain "adult" concepts. Those people wouldn't pass the moron test described above.

I'll confess that I read a certain "book blogger" who really emphasizes cleanliness as being an overarching responsibility in YA. I read that particular blogger because the person is actually a fairly decent writer, as opposed to so many illiterate dimwits who blog about YA. And, I'm not going to ID the blogger for two reasons: 1) I don't want to get into a pissing match, and 2) I don't want to increase the traffic on that particular blog... because it's wrong.

A couple points this blogger makes about YA (and, by the way, I am an author who has two teens at home -- one of each gender):

1. We, as authors, have a duty to raise strong, responsible adults who make strong, responsible decisions.

2. If there's underage sex in a book, you are acting irresponsibly if you allow a teen to read it. Allowing a teen to read such a book is equivalent to endorsing irresponsible sexual behavior.

Okay, that's the gist of this particular blogger's theory on YA and the duty of authors and parents.

As to the first point, I agree that parents do have a responsibility to raise their kids to make ethical decisions. But it doesn't always happen, and a great deal of what we learn as we pass those milestones toward "adulthood" comes at the expense of making mistakes. (A great line from Elvis Costello: "Some people can't be told, you know, they have to learn the hard way.")

Where I depart from the first point is that as an author, I feel a responsibility to tell as much as I can about WHAT IT IS REALLY LIKE OUT THERE... without necessarily condoning anything.

As far as point 2 goes (and -- seriously -- I am not making this up about this particular blogger), I suppose the blogger believes there is some magical moment, like the age of eighteen, when sex becomes okay. Now... a couple points. First, I realize I grew up in what truly was "The Greatest Generation," and, no, it wasn't WW2 (as I talked about with my friends Wendel and Yvonne a few weeks ago), it was the "Generation that used up the next 100 years' worth of fun."

And, really, I don't think I knew anyone from that particular generation who waited for a specific number to show up on their driver's license before having sex -- whether underage or not.

Furthermore, in my own experience, and having seen a lot of the world, if we really could make people wait until they were sufficiently responsible, ethical, and psychologically strong before allowing them to so much as read about sex, then half the world would never be "of age," and the other half would probably have to wait until their thirties.

You try enforcing that one.

And lighten up. I think your pants are a little too tight.

[Author's Note: Don't worry, "they" will be back... eventually. This is the first installment of a short series on WHY I HATE YA]