The universal trend of silencing adolescent girls (the majority of Judy Blume heroines) can be attributed to society feeling weird about girls as humans, about girls having three-dimensional bodies with problems, pains, pimples and hairs like the rest of the population and most of all, about girls actively thinking about or preparing for sex in markedly unsexy, awkward and un-photogenic ways. Misogyny has a big crush on censorship.
Welcome to "YA Lit Bitch," a new Page Turner series about my ever-so-slight (or ever-so-obvious) obsession with young adult literature that's not only good, but represents a wide-open range of teenagers' lives with a feminist heroine (or 2, 3) thrown into the mix. (Can you say Weetzie Bat?) The series will feature interviews with many YA authors about their work as well as feminism, gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and other issues.
We kick off the series with Sara Zarr, who's part of a new generation of YA novelists considered the so-called heirs to grand dame Judy Blume. She is the author of Story of a Girl, (that is, a girl labeled the high school "slut"), which was a 2007 National Book Award finalist; Sweethearts, about the divergent paths taken by two social-outcast friends; and the forthcoming Once Was Lost, which chronicles a pastor's daughter's struggle with faith.
Page Turner talked with Zarr about teen sexuality, feminism, double standards in the YA world, and her own YA lit loves back in the day as a "smart-girl" teen. Read on for more (and please take two seconds to talk about a YA lit love that you want Bitch readers to know about or Page Turner to feature).