The last (and only) time I ever read George Orwell's 1984 was my senior year in high school. I haven't thought much about it since. Then my daughter brought home Lauren Oliver's Delirium from her middle school library and enthusiastically recommended that I read it. Delirium kicked off a very popular YA series—Fox just bought the rights to turn the trilogy into a TV pilot.
Delirium is like a 1984 for tween readers. But, reading it as a mother of color with a biracial daughter (and rereading it to examine how Oliver addresses issues of race and gender), I noticed that, like so many other YA books, the author creates a future society populated almost entirely by white people. Did Oliver intend to do that? Probably not, but that's one of the benefits of whiteness in the U.S.—one doesn't have to consciously think about race in their creations.
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.
I have a lasting affection for Fearless, a young adult series created by Francine Pascal. (Yes, that Francine Pascal.) For today's addition to Pop Pedestal, a weekly column applauding our favorite characters in pop culture, I could write about many of the books' inventions: Gaia, the ass-kicking titular fearless lady; Mary, the bright clubgoer with an unfortunate drug habit. Ultimately, though, my favorite of the books' inventions is Ed Fargo, the best loverboy, sports fan, and devoted friend at Village High.
*WARNING: Sisterhood Everlasting begins with a major, surprising event, and I discuss it in this review. Other potential spoilers are marked.*
It's always dicey when an author pushes a series past its logical conclusion. I met each YA sequel to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants with skepticism, but all four of Ann Brashares' complex, sentimental tomes won me over, as did her threeseparatebooks. After seven respectable novels, one failure should not seem shocking.
But what a failure it is. I found Sisterhood Everlasting abhorrent.
Pageant competitors in a dire situation? It sounds like a recipe for an overly catty misogyfest (or, let's be honest, a terrible porno). Instead, Libba Bray has crafted a complex, blistering satire that is, dare I say, one of the most explicitly feminist novels I have ever read.
On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal fired a shot heard around the literary world: a so-called book review by Meghan Cox Gurdon condemning the YA genre. Gurdon begins by describing a mother looking at covers in a young adult section and finding nothing she considered appropriate for her daughter, only "vampires and suicide and self-mutilation, this dark, dark stuff." Of course, many YA readers (myself included) could name titles that are not "dark, dark" at all, but Gurdon uses this dubious anecdote as a launchpad for a deluge of problematic assertions, contradictions and tacit accusations.
Read more about this misguided article, and the awesome responses by YA lovers, after the jump!
Speaking of anticipation: who's looking forward to the release of Bumped by Megan McCafferty? I am, I am! Check out Phoebe North's insightful review in which she describes the dystopian satire as "sex positive" and "a biting comedy with a tender heart."
Jason Linkins recalls a provocative piece about journalism that seeks to create and criticize candidates' personae rather than report on their politics. Sounds like most news stories about female politicians, doesn't it?
Tom Tom Magazine, the magazine for female drummers, is under attack from Tom Tom GPS, since, you know, people might confuse tracking software with one of the only independent publications covering women and music.
Poor Knut. I don't know about you, but I was dismayed to learn of the famous polar bear's passing. As always, this song is for him.