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YA Author Apologizes To ‘Wall Street Journal’ Critic

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
July 6, 2011

Debates over what material is appropriate for teen readers have been raging since the young adult — or “YA” — genre first emerged four decades ago.

But the argument took on new life in June, when Wall Street Journal children’s book critic Meghan Cox Gurdon suggested that teen fiction had gone from dark to lurid.

Gurdon’s analysis didn’t sit well with YA author Lauren Myracle, whose work was specifically mentioned in Gurdon’s piece. After reading the critique, Myracle called Gurdon’s analysis, “idiocy, to be blunt.”

Myracle joins Gurdon and NPR’s Neal Conan to apologize for that remark.

“I lashed out at you,” Myracle says. “When people get outraged they get angry, and then it becomes this weird argument instead of a discussion … I should welcome people who aren’t on the same page with love and generosity … And I didn’t with you. And I’m sorry.”

“That’s extremely kind,” Gurdon tells Myracle. “Thank you very much for your gracious words. Completely accepted.”

Myracle has been likened to Judy Blume, a writer whose books like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, helped many adolescents grapple with puberty and sexuality in the ’70s and ’80s. Myracle’s 2011 novel, Shine, graphically depicts a vicious hate crime, while also touching on drug use, sexual assault and homophobia in a small southern community.

But while Myracle and Gurdon agreed that what is appropriate for individual young readers will vary widely, they still disagree over the state of the teen fiction industry.

Gurdon says the themes of incest, murder, graphically depicted self-mutilation and hate crimes have become far too common in books for teens. Still, she says is not calling for censorship.

“When we talk about young adult literature, we are still talking … about children,” she says. “And children perhaps going through a very tumultuous phase of their life … We as custodial adults still have a responsibility to think about … what our children are consuming.” [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

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