Let me start with a disclaimer–I haven’t read a lot of YA this summer, Mormon or otherwise. I’m sad about that, but it couldn’t be avoided. Summer’s kind of a crazy time for me, and I haven’t had much time to read at all. What time I have had has been spent in reading for a project that has both a deadline and a public “performance” attached, so not much extra-curricular reading for me. But, last week, a book came on hold for me at the library, and since the reviews sounded interesting, it was from an established YA author that I hadn’t yet read, and it had been getting some buzz, I made time (read: sacrificed precious sleep) to give it a go.
Um, yeah, I totally hated the book. The one YA title I’m likely to get to this summer, and I vehemently disliked it. I’ve actually been more than a little angry about it. Besides being crude and absurd, it sets itself firmly in a philosophy that I find disturbing and ultimately destructive. The author (who shall remain anonymous here) aims her satire at the age old double standard wherein girls are held to a higher bar of behavior than their male counterparts, and are simultaneously brainwashed by popular culture and the mass media into believing dangerous ideas about themselves and their value in the world.
I have no problem with her target. She picked a good one. For generations, young men have been given a pass for behaviors that would brand a young woman for life as a harlot or worse. That’s not cool.
However, this author seems to think the best way to equalize the field is to lower the bar for girls. Her characters are crude, aggressive, promiscuous, manipulative, and have a serious potty-mouth problem. She suggests that in order for girls to find themselves, they must ignore the dictates of a respectful society, act on every whim of emotion, and aggressively pursue casual sexual relationships. Really? What good is “finding yourself” if the person you find isn’t much worth knowing? Which was how I felt about pretty much every character by the end of this book.
Anyway, all of that is a roundabout way to say thank you to all the LDS YA writers who strive for something better. Honestly, it wouldn’t be hard (and might be more popular in the national market) to be salacious and sensational and shallow in their stories of teens and the rocky road to adulthood. But whether serious or silly, funny or tragic, I have read many LDS YA authors who are gracefully and honestly telling stories about teens that I would want to know, and that I can recommend to the teens I know without reservation. So thank you.