There has been a lot of discussion about adults reading teen fiction. I admit that I'm not impressed by adults who only read teen fiction, especially if they only read one sub-genre in teen fiction. Sure, it's fun and easy to set aside in our busy lives but I would argue that this trend is negatively impacting teen books.
My daughter recently authored a candid letter to teen lit authors and it made me think about the direction the genre has taken. I can't help but agree with my kid.
Have you ever read adult reviews of teen books? I have. Many of them. It saddens me that adults have had such an impact on the teen lit world because of these reviews that fail to consider the teen perspective on life, the very people the books are meant for.
Complaints about boring love stories have led to the advent of hypersexualized relationships and unrealistic love triangles to say nothing for themes of the "change to snag your man" variety. Are these really constructs we want to normalize?
Stalking Jack the Ripper, a favorite of my daughter's but it was slammed by adults for being too feminist. Is that really a bad thing when it comes to teens, in today's world? And, that's your complaint? Really? As a mother of a tween daughter, I'd rather have that point driven home. We need to empower our young women and as authors we are in unique positions to do that. Settling for nuances may fly in adult literature, but, it's a little different in the teen world.
The message I'm seeing on these teen book reviews is more sex, less feminism. Go now, take a look at these reviews and who is doing the reviewing.
No wonder my daughter is so frustrated, no wonder kids have these ridiculous ideas about love and adulthood. It's what they read and then what is translated to tv and film for them. It's what they are told life is like, ideals based on the dreamworlds of adults who are driving the changes in teen lit.
Incidentally, I let my daughter join Goodreads so she could balance out the adult reviews on teen lit. We are working with her friends and their families to grow our initiative. Hopefully, it takes off and teens can reclaim their genre.
So what can you do? How can we change this? Next time you read a book meant for teens and decide to review it, think before you write. Consider who the story is meant for and if it hits the mark for that demographic. Think about your children, your nieces and nephews, or any other teen you know and consider what affect the book would have on them. Would it teach them something? Are the characters cardboard cutouts or realistic in the modern world?
If you're looking for more, more sex or depth or development, maybe consider some adult books instead and leave the teen books to the teens.