Guidance for Reviewing Young Adult Literature

September 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm | Posted in Books, Reading | 15 Comments
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I still remember the day that I left Young Adult literature behind for good.  I was in the 8th grade and looking forward to high school when I found a booklet at the library that listed the 101 books that every high school student should read before college.  I don’t remember what books were on that list, but I decided that because I needed to prepare myself that I was too old to read anything childish any longer.  Goodbye, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High, and Girl of the Limberlost.  Hello, Catch 22, All Quite on the Western Front, and Jackie Collins (Mom, if you’re reading this, “Junk in, junk out.”  I know…  Sorry!).

Fast forward 24 years (yikes!) and I have finally returned to the world of YA literature.  I finished Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelly Hall last week.  Suffice to say, times and standards have changed since 1984.  As I mentioned in my Sunday Salon post, there were quite a few references to drugs, smoking, sex, rape and attempted gang rape.  Also, the word c*nt is used.  As an adult, I was fine with all of those things (with the exception of my least favorite word) and really enjoyed the book.

When writing my review, I feel like I should look at it form the YA angle because that is the target audience.  My question for those of you who have more experience reading and reviewing YA fiction: are there any content boundaries or standards for YA fiction similar to movie ratings?  If not, how do you define yours?  I would really appreciate some feedback on the YA fiction of today.  I would hate to write a review making note of content that would be considered standard.  Likewise, I don’t want to leave it out and have people wished I had given them advance notice.

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