It Changes Lives

If you haven't read it, read it here. The article is titled "Darkness Too Visible," and is subtitled, "Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?"

Being an author of YA fiction, I feel like I should weigh in on this. Say something. Something possibly profound and peacekeeping. I'll do my best.

I've heard that parents should be doing the censoring. I agree.

I've heard that parents should let their kids read whatever they want. I think that's case-by-case.

I've heard that a book could never cause someone to engage in something harmful. I disagree.

A couple of years ago, I began a popular YA novel that dealt with eating disorders. Within only a few chapters, I was staring at my plate wondering how little I could get away with eating. I was counting calories, which I never do. I started adding up how much I would weigh after I ate. Even though I'm technically (and naturally) underweight, I've never struggled with an eating disorder, yet I was headed in that direction after a few chapters. The hope in this book would aid someone struggling, but for me, it was dangerous. I had to ban it from myself. (I'd love to think that other teens would act the same, but I have the feeling my analyzing of my actions is not the norm.)

I've heard that a story is just a story. I disagree.

If a story is just a story, then what's the point of writing? We write books to influence. To say that a story is just a story, to imply that there is no danger in a story...doesn't make any sense. Of course there is danger in words. People have been fearing the written word for centuries. Don't say it's all harmless. Just entertainment. Because it's not. The written word is a powerful thing. It changes lives. It deserves its reputation. If it had no impact, many of us would not be writers.
"26 letters can change the world." - Tahereh Mafi, author of YA Shatter Me
Change can go both ways. For the better, and for the worse. Let us be those who write for the better.

1 comment:

Abigail Hartman said...

Good post! I especially liked your point that a story isn't just a story, and that people have been fearing the written word for centuries. (Hallo - book burning, anyone?)

I started in on the post you linked to and was feeling sick to my stomach with the descriptions of the contemporary novels. Since I read mostly books by dead authors, I don't often come face-to-face with the perversity of writing nowadays. I had to close the tab halfway through the article!

However, you summed it up well and made some excellent points. Thank you!