It’s been a full week! The Fault in Our Stars movie adaptation came out last Friday, and while I still haven’t seen it yet, it seem to have been on everyone’s collective mind. I really liked the book – it was a really personal read for me as I had a friend in high school die of leukemia and let me tell you, it’s just as heartbreaking and more in real life – but I’m a bit befuddled at the hype of John Green being the “Savior of YA.” To be succinct: lots of people write realistic YA and lots of them are great at it, some of them maybe better than John Green (my vote’s for A.S. King). Realistic fiction has been around for a long time and so has quality literature for young adults. John Green has just made it more visible by being a good writer and a savvy Internet-er and marketer. That’s it. He’s not here to save it, he’s just one writer doing good things in the midst of a lot of writers doing good things. A lot of those writers are women, too, and none of them have the fan base of John Green. What’s up with that, hmmm?
Mary Ann Badavi at The Atlantic* says it the best here:
John Green’s book deserves acclaim, regardless of his race or gender. But by choosing him to be the crown prince of YA, the entertainment industry has continued its cycle of promoting the work of white men as “real” work, and the work of women as “simple” or, in Graham’s [Slate article here] words, “uniformly satisfying.” It’s a triple blow, being a (1) woman who writes primarily for (2) girls who are (3) teenagers. Three strikes, and you’re out of the mainstream narrative.
These issues have been kicking around in my head all week and I’d like to write about them a bit more at a later date. Stay tuned for that. Or sometimes I get ranty on Twitter if you need a mid-week pick me up!
On a different note, my coworker and I have decided to depart from the Collaborative Summer Reading Theme that many states do and make our own. Here’s part of the reason why:
This is the art for the teen summer reading theme. Ugh. It’s a . . . machine that uses imagination to spit out books on one end and dirt on the other!? What?! The theme is supposed to be science/STEM-based because that is really “hot” in libraryland right now. I’m fine with that, but has the person who made the art ever seen a teenager before? Or even talked to one? It just seems to me that this art has zero teen appeal. (And at least to me, little librarian appeal…) So instead Clare and I are doing this:
It’s basically an excuse to do whatever we want with a lot of different “fandoms” that our teens are interested in and would want programs about, like Hunger Games, Divergent, Sherlock, Minecraft, Star Wars, Adventure Time, the Avengers, Star Trek, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Supernatural, and more. (And don’t forget everyone’s favorite: SuperWhoLock. Just Google it….) Currently, being really geeky and into something (a show, a book, a game, etc) is pretty acceptable for teens and I think that’s great!
It’s going to be a very nerdy, very awesome summer.
Finally, this week I got to reconnect with some librarians from my old job (HEY! NEVINS! LOVE YOU!) and from NELLS (HEY CAMPERS!) and it was delightful. I love having librarian friends all over the place!
One last thing before I go: what are your favorite fandoms if you have any? What do your fangirl or fanboy over? I’ll admit to Star Trek, BSG, Pacific Rim, Doctor Who, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone books, and Hunger Games. Some of you know my secret fandoms….or you can try and guess!
*Who is surprised that the Atlantic writes a great article about YA and Slate writes the worst? Oh right, no one. I still maintain that Slate has been awful ever since Christopher Hitchens died. You know that if Hitchens wrote an article about YA, while he may be dismissive of it, at least it would be 1) entertaining, 2) well written, and 3) well researched. I swear Ruth Graham read like very popular two YA books and decided to condemn the whole section.