What makes for YA? A reader opines

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When, I sometimes ask myself, did my writing life begin?  Was it at nine, when I started penning those crazy purple poems?  Was it at sixteen, when my English teacher noticed?  Was it when Natalie Kutz answered a letter I'd written her, or when Iowa Woman accepted my first essay?

Or was it when I won a certain grant, my first, and upon that occasion had my first reading and also met (it's funny how this happens) people who have remained friends throughout this writing life?

One of those friends is a writer who goes by the name of Sam Gridley.  His novel, The Shame of What We Are, is due out soon and he's started a blog that is (in typical Gridley style) provocative and intriguing.  Yesterday, this Mr. Gridley was inspired, following his read of Dangerous Neighbors, to reflect on the level of thematic maturity acceptable in books labeled YA, as opposed to the level of maturity he has lately found elsewhere.  It's a post worth reading. 

Postscript:  In my I-keep-waking-up-at-3AM-to-work-on-corporate-projects state, I failed to note that Mr. Gridley's review does include a reveal, shall we say, of a key plot point.  Short version:  Spoiler Alert.  Thanks, Sarah!


Sarah Laurence said...

That was a really positive review, but I wish I hadn't read it. Gridley gave the ending away! You should add a spoiler alert to your post and he should too.

I am, though, very interested in posts on what material works for YA, as a boundary pusher myself. For teens, I think it matters more HOW you tell the story than WHAT the story is about, although there are some topics that we adults believe to be inappropriate for younger readers.

bermudaonion said...

I avoided his post since I haven't read Dangerous Neighbors yet, but I do agree that YA novels touch on some pretty mature subject matters these days. Teens have to deal with so much more than we did way back when! Have you seen My Friend Amy's post on YA?

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