The argument that dark and realistic YA covering real-world issues is somehow bad for teens to read because they will pick up the behaviours described within is incredibly patronising and offensive to teens. It suggests that they are incapable of reading about something without wanting to try it, and that they are so easily swayed by their reading material that they don’t stop to think before making any decisions. Adults manage to read books about people doing horrible things (look at how popular the mystery genre is, and specifically books within that genre where killers are the heroes) and not do horrible things themselves, enjoying the books as intellectual exercises or probings into the human spirit.
Why would we deny teens the same opportunity? And why would we suggest that they are incapable of critical thought when they so obviously are obviously able to handle complex issues? Saying that YA is a corrupting influence is nothing new, but it totally sets teens up for failure by stripping them of any kind of independent ability to make their own decisions and choices. If the response to ‘Chris has started cutting himself’ is ‘Chris shouldn’t have been reading bad books,’ you’re missing the point entirely, because the question here is why Chris started cutting himself.
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It happened out of nowhere.. I saw him at the boy scout meetings that I take my little cousin to, and I realized how dazzling and attractive he is. Even in his muddy boots and truck. We were at a camp out for the boys, and I spoke to him. He was sitting by himself at his little campsite, and I approached him. From that point we became inseperable. For the last two weeks I have been at his house. I dont know what has gotten us to this point, but I am falling for him. He claims to be falling for me as well. He claims that it feels we have known each other much longer. It makes me feel like maybe we were together in a past life, and our souls have crossed once more. This is the man that I want to spend the rest of my life with. This man is the one who I have no doubts over. This is a man that I can trust who has made a life for himself and his son. He wants my company and I want to be it. He climbs into bed with me and holds me. He nuzzles his cheek against mine and I can feel his warmth. He is tender and kind, but rough at the same time. His eyes meet mine and I am thawed from my frozen stare. His smile reassures me that he wants to be mine, that he wants me to be his.
— Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes From Underground (translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)
The bigger the crabs, the bigger their appetites for delectable oysters.