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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad YA Book?

Kelly Jensen of Stacked has started writing for Book Riot and her latest, What Are Grown-Ups Afraid Of In YA Books, does not disappoint.

Kelly has a nice, nuanced post that points to several recent examples of adults fretting over the books teen read. Read the whole post; I particularly liked “when you fear the books, you also fear the truth.”

One of the examples Kelly pointed out was an article calling Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson porn.

This is where it gets good; it’s one of the few times on the Internet that I say, “read the comments.” Because the person arguing about Speak being porn shows up in the comments, and engages in extended debate with a variety of people. And it pretty much ends up confirming much of Kelly’s post.

I’ll add one other thing. One thing the person says is “When you promote good things, fewer bad things happen.”

I disagree with that. And instead point out one of my favorite books that addresses the danger of the “only good things” approach to life, Hush by Eishes Chayil. From my review: “Hush is a fascinating and brutally honest examination of what happens to a family and community that believes that if they think child sexual abuse doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t happen, and anything — or anyone — that says otherwise should be quieted, excluded, shunned, hushed. Best to act as if nothing ever happened. I could not read this book in one sitting. I had to put it down, take deep breaths, literally walk away.” (See also She Will Not Be Hushed, about the author of Hush).

So, go over. Take a look. And think about the power of words and the power of books.

Updated to add: Kelly’s post is now up at the Huffington Post, with a whole new comment thread.

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. Oh, Liz, thanks for the heads up. Kelly’s POV is always so well reasoned.

  2. You know, reading that guy’s comments made me feel dirtier than reading SPEAK ever did. Kind of ironic he’d take the attitude: “If you don’t talk about bad things, they won’t happen.” — about SPEAK, since that’s exactly the harmful attitude it’s speaking against.

  3. Elizabeth Burns says:

    tanita, it’s a terrific post and then just a fascinating comment thread.

    Sondy, I know!


  1. […] head over and read both the original article and her round-up of responses.  Liz Burns also posted a response to the article and its resulting controversy–be sure to check that out as well!  This conversation might seem repetitive but it’s […]