I don’t know Andrew Smith’s work but will definitely be looking out for “Grasshopper Jungle”. Because I LOVE reading YA literature, firstly – not all of it; I dislike the really dark stuff (and it’s out there), and I REALLY dislike the stuff about nasty girls doing mean things to each other. But beyond that crud, you’ll often find the most creatively adventurous out-of-the-box imagining in YA lit.
What particularly encourages me about Smith’s comments here, however, is his statement that YA is a genre, it’s not about the age of the readers. That is so true, yet it had literally never occurred to me! It gives a whole new perspective to my own book, “Raven’s Way”, and for the first time in a long while I feel inclined to dig it out, throw off the restrictive bs I’ve “learned” about “writing for kids”, and get serious about rewriting the story I want to tell, the way I want to tell it.
In the summer of 2011, an awful lot of terrible things happened to me. It was kind of like the end of the world in many ways (cue apocalypse inspiration). My son, who was only 16, was getting ready to leave home and go away to college, and then one of those predictable and periodic internet/social media firestorms erupted over an opinion piece published by the Wall Street Journal describing the harm inflicted on young people by the dark and negative content in Young Adult literature.
You know the piece, I’m sure. The author happened to name me first, quoting from my novel The Marbury Lens, as though I were some sort of apex predator in the Axis of Child-Damaging Literary Evil.
I take things like that really personally. I know I shouldn’t, but as a parent, and as someone who is very involved with young people, being labeled…
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