I know there have been a lot of posts around the internets responding to the Wall Street Journal article that decries the darkness of the YA world. Many of them are more interesting and eloquent than what I will write, but I have many thoughts that deserve to be written down somewhere.
I'm a YA writer. I'm also a YA reader. I've read some books that had edgy, dark, and sometimes horrifying content. The Wake trilogy. The Hunger Games Trilogy. There are others, but they don't come immediately to mind. I've read reviews of other books and chosen not to read them because of the content. Some things I am comfortable reading. Others I am not. And it is my choice.
This is the thought that I have found running through my head. For every Hunger Games there is a Matched. For every dark and distressing topic, there is a book of sunshine and rainbows. (Not that Matched is sunshine and rainbows. It is dystopian, after all. It's just light on questionable content.) I'm a sunshine and rainbows writer. I know that there are others out there who write fairy tale retellings that turn them into something dark, but I'm always going to be a sunshine and rainbows writer.
Does this mean that I think the dark and edgy has no place and should never be read? No. The books I read in high school, while not strictly YA had lots of dark themes. 1984. Scarlet Letter. Lord of the Flies. Bless the Beasts and the Children. No One Promised You a Rose Garden. Brave New World. The Giver. My sister just read Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak as part of her junior English class.
There is a place for these stories. They are the yang to my rainbows and sunshine story's yin. I don't think I would appreciate the happy without understanding that things could be much different. I don't necessarily need to read the dark to know that I prefer the light, but I do need to know that I have a choice. and that's the way I see it. The dark stuff is not always going to be the right choice for everybody, but I'm also not going to make anybody read "and they all lived happily ever after" if they don't want to.
So, friends. Where do you stand on this?