I have a whole series of thoughts swirling right now that are making me angry and frustrated and they boil down to a couple of points that I need to write down or else I’ll continue stewing in them.
If you — YOU — as an adult are made uncomfortable about a YA book and “too prude” about giving it to teens, then you are doing a significant disservice to your teens. What YOU feel is not relevant to your teens. What your teens are going through and what they can handle is different. Each and every individual teen is unique and has needs and desires and interests that are NOT relevant to you or yours. They can be related, but how you feel isn’t reflective of them.
Respect your community, but part of that respect comes through understanding that not EVERY book will be for EVERY reader. That because a book makes YOU uncomfortable doesn’t mean that book won’t be the exact right read for another person — a teenager, even.
Because you think a book sold as YA isn’t YA doesn’t mean it’s NOT YA. YA is a RANGE. There are young YA titles, as well as very mature YA titles.
There are books for every type of YA reader. But not every book is for every YA reader.
And further — and further — remember that teens deserve not just respect, but they deserve respect as TEENAGERS not as mini adults. They are not adults. They are kids. They do stupid things, they say stupid things, and they do stuff that is incomprehensible to adults. RESPECT THAT.
Respecting it doesn’t mean CONDONING it. Respecting it means understanding that it’s part of their learning process and it is what helps them grow into adults.
Respect, too, that stupid things teens in YA books do are sometimes also stupid things that teens in real life do. It doesn’t mean that the book or story CONDONES it. It means that the book RESPECTS the fact teenagers are teenagers and not mini adults.
Part of respecting teens is being open and honest with them. Perhaps if you’re UNCOMFORTABLE with something you’re reading in a YA book, you NEED it on your shelf so you can begin a conversation. So that those ideas can be shared and processed. Perhaps when you’re able to face those things in print, you can also better face them in reality. What a lesson for teens to learn and see.