Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Diane Duane on Darkness in Teen Literature

From the sounds of it, this whole Wall Street Journal 'teen literature is too dark' thing is really getting talked about, at least in some circles. To the point where people are getting sick of it!

Anyway, Diane Duane (a YA author) has this to say on the subject:

What I found while doing one-to-one therapy with adolescent patients is that to successfully start working through their problems, what they initially needed more than anything else was confirmation and acknowledgement from those around them that the problems existed in the first place – that they weren’t unique or alone in their situation, that other people knew about it and that it was real. Books dealing with the problem in question were and are often a useful tool to help that acknowledgement get started, and even (in some cases) in getting a patient past their own denial that they had any such difficulty at all.

When I was practicing, such books were often painfully dry and didactic, and I wish there’d been more young adult fiction available on such subjects… for fiction (especially when done well) tends to lecture less than nonfiction and is more likely to be successfully internalized because you’re hearing, not a dry recitation of fact, but someone’s voice. Young adult novels that deal honestly with such issues unquestionably have value for teens groping their way toward understanding of how to tackle their problems. They invite them into the dialogue: they make the troubled teen part of the solution. And at the very least, they let their readers know that they’re not alone. There are times when that knowledge is enough to mean the difference between life and death. Here, without any doubt whatever, YA really does save.

What a gigantic quote. She has a lot more to say, too, if you care to follow the link. Again (I feel like I say this every time the subject comes up), the sense of feeling alone is a big problem for kids, or even for grown-ups, and having a book that makes someone feel less alone is often helpful.


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