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Sunday, October 4, 2009

To Read or Not to Read

I just finished reading Sonya Sones' latest book, WHAT MY GIRLFRIEND DOESN'T KNOW (making it the fourth book with a male main character I've read this year). I loved WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN'T KNOW but wasn't convinced I'd enjoy reading about the continuing story from the boy's point of view. But I LOVED it. Then I picked up another of Sonya's books, ONE OF THOSE HIDEOUS BOOKS WHERE THE MOTHER DIES. And I just ordered another of hers (sadly, after this one I'll have read all of her books and will have to wait for a new one).

Sonya writes in verse - that means they're poems!! Yes, I'm loving poetry (or at least Sonya's). These books are so amazing. But I decided to see what other readers thought of her latest, because not that many teen books are written in verse. I found a review by a mother.

The title of her review was Absolutely Disgusting. In her review she said that the book "is all about sex, kissing, arranging alone time while parents are not present." And she went on and on about how inappropriate this book was (even calling it a glorified sex movie in print). And nobody in the book ever even has sex!!

It totally boggled my mind. Because I have a daughter and I'd let her read this book in a heartbeat. The writing is wonderful, the characters are finely drawn. And to her point about the "sex" etc., the fact is Robin (the male main character) had an opportunity to "kiss" and go further with another girl, but he chose to be with the girl he loves - the very girl who wasn't having sex because she wasn't ready. I was more disturbed and appalled by the actions of the other characters - the kids who callously pick on Robin, the "best friends" who turn their back so easily - than I was by the honest emotions and physicality of the main characters.

Every one of my teen books so far has had one (or more) of the following: loss of virginity, sex, drugs, cheating, and even an unplanned pregnancy. I can't imagine writing a book that wasn't honest to the characters in it. And I certainly can't imagine keeping my daughter from reading a book because I was afraid she'd feel it was an endorsement of what takes place in the story. I read books growing up that contained sex, drugs, abortion, etc. and you know what? I didn't end up a crack addicted pregnant teen. But you what I did end up being? Someone who can appreciate stories and characters and the thrill of loving a story told through the eyes of fabulous characters.

What about you? Did your parents ever prohibit you from reading an "inappropriate" book? How do you feel about this?


Anonymous said...

My mother is currently writing a book about a 17 year old boy who in a talented piano player and wants to form a rock band. She has drugs, sex and foul language. At times my mother has questioned if she should put this in her book, I have told her repeatedly that is what makes the characters more realistic. I'm glad to see you agree. I will forward this to my mother.

Jan Blazanin said...

My parents never prohibited me from reading any book I chose. Sometimes I "prohibited" myself after reading the first few pages, but that was usually because the book was too violent for my taste or just plain boring.
Kids are more savvy than adults give them credit for, and they aren't interested in reading bland stories with sugar-coated characters.

Danielle Joseph said...

My mother never prohbited me from reading anything and I never really took advantage of this freedom either (except with a few movies). However onec a librarian told my mom not to let me read Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume and I was so annoyed. I tend to agree that kids are much more savvy than many adults think!

Jennifer Echols said...

My mother was giving me "inappropriate" books to read. As long as the books were good, she figured I could handle the rest.

I was astonished by a review of my novel The Boys Next Door that complained about "all the underage drinking." There is some beer at a party, but none of the main characters drink it, because drinking has absolutely nothing to do with the story. I was just trying to set a realistic scene. Some people see what they want to see.