One of the best things about managing this site is the contact I have with a wide variety of independent bookstore sites. One of my favorites is Village Books in Bellingham, WA. Their site is packed with information about special offers, events (and they have some of the most interesting) and a blog that merits reading.
This week’s blog includes a response to an article about YA fiction that appeared in the Wall Street Journal in June of 2011. The response was written by Rachel, another stellar employee at Village Books. In addition to her own thoughts (hers is the second article on the blog with a link to the original article) about YA fiction, she links to some other very important responses. My own favorite was that written by Sherman Alexie whose award-winning book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, came under attack in the WSJ article. It remains one of my favorite books and I still remember a regular customer who came into the bookstore with his young son (about eleven or twelve) and left his son with me to find a good book while he went off in another direction. I pulled down the Alexie book and suggested he try it. When he brought the book to his dad, dad looked at me for a sign that I really thought it was the right book. I nodded and assured him it was his son’s generation The Catcher in the Rye, only better. A week later father and son came into the store and the boy told me it was the best book he had ever read. I told the father that I hoped he would read it, too.
Rachel’s take on the dark side of today’s YA fiction is realistically thoughtful: http://villagebooksblogs.typepad.com/ I encourage you to take the time to read her essay and save it and the other important links. Village Books is definitely on my “to do” list on my next trip to see the kids in Portland. Bellingham isn’t that much farther up the road. s.s.
You know, when I first wrote that post I worried I was entering the debate far too late, but it isn’t a debate that ever dies down. That post has received a lot of traffic and comments, which only proves it’s an issue about which people feel strongly. It’s not an old debate, but it’s not that new, either. “What content should be in the young adult literature section?” has been a vital question ever since young adult literature broke off as its own section!
Thanks for sharing your own story about Sherman Alexie’s work. It’s one of the most rewarding feelings as a bookseller: when I recommend a book that someone loves so much they come back to store to find me and thank me for suggesting it. And, yeah, sometimes dark young adult books find people at the right moment and make a profound impact!