Some YA lit is very dark. Sometimes I read articles that say all YA is dark, but again – that’s just someone not doing their research. But here’s what I can’t ever figure out: why is darkness in YA lit a bad thing? Let’s think about teens for a moment. By the time teens reach the age of 18, 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will have been a victim of some type of sexual violence, most often by someone they loved and trusted. 1 out of 5 kids and teens go to bed hungry each night. Soon, the current generation of teens will never have lived in a time when the United States was not actively engaged in a war on foreign soil. Teens today live in a world overshadowed by the events of 9/11, where we stand in lines at the airport to take off our shoes and listen for announcements of what the current color threat level is. Schools today have duck and cover lock down drills where they practice what to do if a shooter comes into their school. They will know someone who has a mental illness (it is suggested that 1 out 3 people have or will have), a form of cancer (again around 1 in 3), and a host of other issues before they graduate from high school. They can’t escape the very real darkness of the world around them and if authors didn’t reflect that in their literature, it would ring shallow and false.
So if you want there to be less darkness in YA literature, then I guess you need to ask yourself what you are doing to make the lives of teenagers – and the world they live in – less dark.
–A YA librarian on YA.
(Also I dare you not to snort at the next paragraph in the article, about adults looking seriously at their own popular cultural products before looking down their noses at stuff enjoyed by teens…)