Authors Fight Back
As you can imagine, the backlash from many YA authors, especially those whose books were called out in the article for containing questionable material, was immediate. One of the most notable responses was from Sherman Alexie, whose book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian won a National Book Award in 2007. He came under fire when Cox Gurdon quoted him saying "There's nothing in my book that even compares to what kids can find on the Internet." Upon reading the Wall Street Journal article, Sherman Alexie wrote an article of his own, discussing why he writes about the subject matter he does.
Blasted for writing about an assault on a gay teenager in a small Southern town in her recent release, Shine, YA author extraordinary Lauren Myracle also wrote a response to the Wall Street Journal article on her blog. Ms. Myracle handled the lashing with grace, I believe, after being blasted by Cox Gurdon for being compared to Judy Blume by the well respected periodical, Publisher's Weekly.
Narrowly missing Cox Gurdon's mudslinging but no stranger to censorship and book banning, widely respected author Laurie Halse Anderson responded to the article on her blog, a favorite of teen readers and aspiring YA authors alike. In her response, Halse Anderson urged teens to send their responses, outrage or agreement, directly to the Wall Street Journal. Halse Anderson believes that "YA literature saves lives. Every. Single. Day." And she should know. After writing the book Speak in 1999, about Melinda, a young girl picking up the pieces of her life and attempting to move on after being date raped at a party, Laurie Halse Anderson was inundated with letters from young readers thanking her for approaching the subject matter. In fact, in 2009, Halse Anderson composed a poem largely comprised of snippets and sentiments from letters sent to her from readers who connected with the message of Speak.
I can't imagine anyone listening to Laurie Halse Anderson's poem Listen and not agreeing that young adult literature can indeed save lives. If you are concerned about what your child is reading, read it first. Know what is happening in your own home. Do not blame young adult authors for writing books you don't agree with. Know what your children are reading. If you don't believe they are ready for a certain subject matter, discuss it with them. Ask them to tell you why they like certain books and subject matter. The maturity your child shows with her answer may surprise you. Talk to your kids.
This opinion provided is from a teacher, parent and author experience.