Last week's fury at the Wall Street Journal Book Review "Darkness Too Visible" was all over Twitter. The hashtag #YASAVES is still active. (For those of you not familiar with a Twitter hashtag, it's a way to tag your post to be included in an ongoing conversation.) It's apparent that those involved in Young Adult Literature are passionate about their work.
For months I've been following Young Adult Authors Against Bullying on Facebook and waiting anxiously for the release of the book Dear Bully, due out in fall of 2011. This is an anthology, edited by Young Adult Authors Megan Kelly Hall and Carrie Jones is a compilation of bullying stories by well known authors. It was born of passion to help teens and address the issue of bullying. While on that group page the other day, I found an article that tore through my soul. I knew I had to write about it.
Daniel Mendez, a sophomore in high school, committed suicide in May 2009. His parents filed suit against four teens who allegedly bullied him. Now, I'm not going to comment on the law suit but what really moved me was the publication of Daniel's letters to his psychiatrist and friends. As I read it, I thought, FINALLY a REAL look at what people think when they believe death is the only answer.
It took me two days to read the whole letter.
I've lived what he wrote. And his words threw me right back there.
How many others can relate? I'd say: more than most.
How many can't even think about that kind of pain and suffering? I'd say: TOO MANY.
But in order to save lives and help others, we need to talk about this. We need to address what is truly driving human beings to end their own lives or to even THINK about it. And that's where Young Adult Literature comes in. Starting a difficult conversation with a teen (or anyone for that matter) can be easier with a catalyst. Great books have always been amazing tools to do just that.
So, here again, I disagree with Meghan Cox Gurdon and her thoughts about YA books. Darkness can't be visible enough. It's time we turn the light on. We need to face reality and rarely does it involve sunshine or rainbows.