News Ticker

Teen Fiction

From NBC Nightly News on August 15th, 2005 comes a story about books referred to as Teen Fiction. Apparently these books are all the rage with teen and pre-teen girls today (specific figures on sales weren’t mentioned, but some statement about it being a fast growing segment of the market was.) The rub – these books often contain subjects that parents might not be comfortable with 10-15 year olds reading about – specifically sex, drugs, and other topics that include child abuse and rape. Yikes!

They interviewed one mother of 2 teenage girls who was previewing the books her daughters wanted to buy and she referred to many of the books as smut (her words) and that she had felt bad about not realizing what her daughter had read in the past, but that she was monitoring it now. They talked about one book (unfortunately I can’t remember the name now) that dealt with a teacher seducing a student – noting that it was ‘ripped from the headlines.’

Is this new, or hasn’t this sort of material always been written for and been available to teens? When I was a teen I remember people passing around copies of books by Judy Blume (Forever for example) at one point with highlights on the passages involving sex. It wasn’t gratuitous or explicit, but it was there. Is this new fiction worse? Comment if you’ve seen any of it!

4 Comments on Teen Fiction

  1. Speaking within the realm of science fiction, I think that “young adult” (or “teenage” or whatever you want to call it) fiction is vastly different today than what it was years ago in the days of, say, Robert A. Heinlein. At least, that’s my experience with stuff like David Gerrold’s excellent Dingillian Family series which deals with some pretty mature stuff.

    We briefly touched on this before. And then you start raising questions about what does young adult mean? Are publishers bending the accepted understanding of this term? A quick search of this very blog recalls some comments made by Ursula Le Guin:

    …LeGuin dismisses young adult fiction as a fake category born out of the needs of publishers, bookselleers, and librarians even though she does not shun the demographic. “Writing for kids is a responsibility,” she says.

    I think the lesson, if any is to be learned, is don’t judge a book by its cover. “Teenage” fiction is not necessarily appropriate for your 13-year-old.

  2. Allan Roseewarne // August 17, 2005 at 2:41 am //

    OK, not sure how folks will take the following comment, but… Apparrently, some time ago Robert A. Heinlein said in order to make a book a juvenile book was write the story and then take all the sex outand now you made a juvenile book.

  3. True, Allan, but that’s the old school way of thinking. For better or worse, things labeled “young adult” or “teenage” today may contain sexual topics. The main young chracater of Gerrold’s Dingillian Family series has a brother who is gay, for example. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. :))

  4. I just had a book of mine reviewed by a 13-year-old, who gave it a favorable review. I admit I was embarassed, since the book addresses themes and ideas I do not think it wise to display to someone of tender years. One of the characters is afflicted with a sexual perversion. Admittedly, the character is a bad guy, and the perversion is not treated sympathetically, nor is it described in any detail. But nonetheless, for a child even to be introduced to this matter is distasteful.

    Children are children because they lack the experience they need to form judgments: they lack a sense of proportion. They can be told that certain disgusting practices are normal and healthy and happy and fine, and, lacking all experience, the child will believe it.

    Thirteen is the age when we come across the Book of Gold, that one book which will live as a treasure in our hearts for the rest of our lives. If you are a lover of books as I am you know what I mean. This is the book, no matter how badly written it seems to you when you read it with adult eyes, that meant everything to you.

    To me it is disturbing that some thirteen year old might take as his Book of Gold, his most beloved treasure, something that is actually the Book of Filth.

    Even the question of whether or not certain books have a corrosive effect on the mind of youth is one it needs experience to answer. And experience is the one thing, no matter how bright they are, children lack.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: