if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

Another day, another take on YA books

Not sure exactly how I feel about this, so I’m opening it up to comments in an attempt to get a dialogue going, and maybe I’ll be able to sort out my own thoughts. Basically, I saw this piece on MediaBistro yesterday which reads as a pretty rough indictment of YA (the author Caitlin Flanagan proclaims “I hate Y.A. novels; they bore me.”), but at the same time, the full-length piece in the Atlantic from which the MediaBistro extract is pulled is a lush paean to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. Yes, there are the quotes pulled out in the MB article disparaging Gossip Girl and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but I couldn’t help but notice the author’s deep love for the YA books of her own childhood.
The titles that spoke to her then were full of what she finds so engaging in Twilight; that is, the idea of romance — all-consuming, at times overpowering, deeply emotional, overwrought, and uncontrollable — and I’m sure that any reader of YA worth their salt can name half a dozen other books that plum those same depths of love. Not in the marketed, name-dropping way of Gossip Girl or the friendship-over-boys theme of Sisterhood, as Flanagan dismisses other bestsellers for the market, but with prose that isn’t sacrificed for story, as is the case in Twilight (as per Flanagan, who describes it as “no work of literature, to be sure, no school for style; hugged mainly to the slender chests of very young teenage girls, whose regard for it is on a par with the regard with which just yesterday they held Hannah Montana”).
So — what’s your reaction to the Atlantic article? How do you feel about Twilight as romance or as literature? What books would you name that capture that same sense of teen angst? Sing out in the comments!

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