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The trouble with kids' books

Is there an adult conspiracy to jolt kids from their peaceful childhoods by foisting depressing books on them? Laura Miller suggests there is in this New York Times piece, which decries the rise of afterschool special-type YA novels. “These books describe, with spare realism, child and teenage protagonists weathering abuse, addiction, parental abandonment or fecklessness, mental illness, pregnancy, suicide, violence, prostitution or self-mutilation – and often a combination of the above,” writes Miller.

The hook for the piece is a new book by Barbara Feinberg, Welcome to Lizard Motel, which raises those very concerns. Writes Miller: “Adults, [Feinberg] suspects, secretly resent the sheltered, enchanted world children inhabit and under the pretext of preparing them for life’s inevitable difficulties, want to rub their noses in traumas they may never actually experience and often aren’t yet able to comprehend.” Also troubling is an adult mistrust of fantasy and imagination, even after the Harry Potter phenomenon.

Related links:
The New York Times on the grim realism of YA fiction