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21 February 2015 @ 03:38 pm
How do you solve a problem like this one?  
"How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you catch a wave and pin it down?" So go the lyrics of one of my favorite songs in THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Lately, though, the pinning down has less to do with an irrepressible spirit and much more to do with incredible ignorance (lack of knowledge). I should know better than to read anything about YA when it is not either written by someone in the field, someone with some expertise, someone who will not spout theories. And especially someone who does not know the history.

And so, there is this article: http://www.avclub.com/article/were-talking-about-young-adult-fiction-all-wrong-215067. The title leads me to believe I might be happy reading it. But, no. The first clue is that the "historic" book reference point is Harry Potter. In other words, this is the inception of YA. Quite a few things wrong here including there is a longer history of quality YA before HP. But, okay, I will let this one go. Moving on.

The remainder of the article discusses the various ways YA has been reduced by "critics." And yet it does little to lessen the reductive nature of the analysis of the past. It does not refer to criticism which shows YA as vibrant and authentic and truly literary (as it assuredly can be and is). It wanders through a miasma of "maybe this is the reason" or "what if we looked at it through this lens" without ever coming to some sort of approach that might work better. Instead, it seems to shrug its shoulder and return to talking about franchises, adaptations, and the like.

Would that this writer had instead examined some of the scholarship in the field: Michael Cart's from romance to realism, Herz and Gallo's FROM HINTON TO HAMLET, Kaywell's series ADOLESCENT LITERATURE AS A COMPLEMENT TO THE CLASSICS, Zitlow's LOST MASTERPIECES OF YA. Read a few issues of The ALAN Review, maybe?

Finally, I urge you to read through the comments. It is an interesting assortment of reactions and responses and an occasional, "SQUIRREL!"
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