Don’t let there be a Spring Awakening.
Personally, Young Adult fiction has always been my favourite kind of books to read, especially throughout my teenage years. It was my favourite YA texts that helped get me through personal issues, and understand the issues that I did not personally face. I believe that an avid reader lives many lives, and a young girl going through high school can highly utilize the tools that the morally driven stories contain in Young Adult literature. Young Adult Literature is a great spectrum of texts to examine because not only does it get young adults excited about reading, but it also explores relevant issues of adolescences in a very realistic light. However, the issue with YA literature is that the texts chosen by most of the powers of authorities for these young adults—such as teachers, parents, and librarians—hinder the potential of these tools by sticking to the same tired “canon” novels that have young adults hindering away from reading and not itching towards it, while novels that are both educational and engaging for adolescence are usually deemed inappropriate.
So the fact of the matter is, Young Adult literature is great because it teaches young adults all about the dangers they may face during their adolescent years in a safe way. Novels like Hold Fast by Kevin Major, Looking for Alaska by John Green, and Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks, are all prime examples of books that deal with many serious adolescent topics. These novels, especially Go Ask Alice, deal with many issues that most school systems— especially Catholic school systems like the one I, myself, attended—refuse to discuss in a
classroom. I believe that educational systems should not shy away from YA novels that deal with serious topics, because ignoring issues such as sexual initiation and substance abuse does not make the issues go away, it just hinders an adolescents ability to deal with it in a productive and safe way. Ignorance is not always bliss, and it’s about time that all educational facilities recognize this.
Edward Sullivan’s article “Young Adult Literature” discusses many of the faults of the educational system regarding YA Novels. “My suspicion is that, despite the vast, incredibly rich canon of young adult literature now available, a majority of classroom teachers are either ignoring it nor not taking it seriously enough to extensively use it in middle and high school curriculums.” (Sullivan 11) I completely and whole heartedly agree with Sullivan’s argument, and I question why this is so. Do teachers not remember being adolescents? Would they not have wanted to learn about six and drugs in a safe zone like a classroom, in which one can explore ideas and discuss the pros and definitely the cons of those touchy subjects? What frustrates me even more, is that books such as Looking for Alaska have been banned for the most odd reasons. This John Green book is about a boy who falls in love with a girl while they both attend a private school. Her name is Alaska, and she has a lot of issues and a boyfriend. She tragically dies in a car crash, and the rest of the novel features the main character Miles— also nicknamed Pudge—can never get Alaska off his mind, before or after. While the novel features two sexually charged scenes, the two scenes compared to one another actually give off a positive notion on sexual realtions. One scene features the main characters first experience with oral sex with someone he does not love. This experience leaves Pudge unsatisfied, much
unlike the comparison scene in which him and Alaska kisses him and then falls asleep on the couch while Pudge sleeps on the floor.
I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I...
Bibliography: 46.8 (2003): 638-653.
3. Major, Kevin. Hold fast. Groundwood Books Ltd, 1978. Print.
4. Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Kenneth L. Donelson. “Literature for today 's young adults.” New
York: Longman, 2001.
5. Sparks, Beatrice. Go ask Alice. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971. Print.
6. Sullivan, Edward T., Carol Jago, and Kate Evans. "Young Adult Literature Issue." English
Journal (1997): 11-11.
7. Younger, Beth. (2003). “Pleasure, Pain, and the Power of Being Thin: Female Sexuality in
Young Adult Literature.” National Women’s Studies Association Journal
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