In response to Ruth Graham’s piece in Salon about YA, A.O. Scott’s piece in the New York Times (partly) about YA, and Christopher Beha’s piece in the New Yorker about YA, Sarah Hamburg wrote the very funny “How to Tell If You’re in an Essay about Adulthood”. It won’t make sense without the context of the other articles, especially Scott’s, so read them first, if you can bear it.
Also in response, Anne Ursu wrote the strong, thoughtful, and complete “On Poisoned Apples, The ‘Great YA Debate,’ and The Death of the Patriarchy”, which can be read without all the context, and is a great example of why I wish the people who actually knew what they were talking about were the ones raking in the big internet audiences. Please boost the signal.
One of the most amazing and depressing things about this continual “adults shouldn’t read YA” crap (and there are so many amazing and depressing things) is the unquestioned assumption that adults should be above the concerns of young people, that we have nothing to gain from the concerns of young people (other than nostalgic memories of our own innocence). That if it’s for young people, it can’t be sophisticated enough for adults; it can’t be art; it must be less. Yes, the debate devalues women; it devalues fine authors and their work. But most infuriating is the devaluation of girls and boys. Read the Ursu article. It has so many good parts. And please, please pass it on.
ETA: So sorry for the earlier version of this post, which named Heather Graham as the author of that appalling article, rather than Ruth Graham. Dictation slip. Sorry, Heather Graham! And thank you, JD, for noticing and telling me.