Weapons of healing.

Posted: November 28, 2012 in pOstEd WeEkLY

This blog post will be about my reaction to Meghan Cox Gurdon’s article in the Wall Street Journal, Darkness Too Visible. And I’d like to rip it apart. But, I’ve taken a moment to gather my thoughts and here’s what I’ve got…

My reason for minor outrage is mainly due to Amy Freeman, a 46 year old mother of three, who had been interviewed by Gurdon about her experience and thoughts behind a recent visit to the young-adult section of Barnes & Noble. Basically she ranted about how “darkness” is all over and how violence is prevalent in books today and so on. You’ve heard this before, rings close to ‘Burn the Harry Potter books because it’s witchcraft’ yelled by do-gooder christian parents.

BUT

To each is own, I say. If your 14 year old kid relates to a self-mutilating 14 year old character living on the streets of New York selling drugs to pay for food…perhaps it is a heavy dose of reality for a 14 year old, but your kid is not alone in whatever that “darkness” is that they are relating to in the world that they’ve discovered. If you don’t want your young Adult to be exposed to gripping reality which is often dark, then deny them, but no one has the right to deny someone else’s young adult from reading and discovering that world for themselves. Banning books? It almost sounds more like the dark ages then banning darkness of novels.

Now, I am no parent, so I cannot say what I would and wouldn’t want my 12-18 year old to read. But I was an adolescent not too long ago and my parents NEVER told me I could not read a book. That would have been ridiculous. My mother always made sure I had a library card and we would each find our place in the Library for hours. She knew it was a place of safety and knowledge. Though Barnes & Noble is not a Library, it too is a place of knowledge both intellectual and social.

I believe that if a child is reading, not for school, but for pleasure then perhaps take a step. Really see that they have found something that they enjoy, relate to, and can use as a weapon for healing. More specifically, young adults or teens do not always want to confide in their parents or adults (or even peers) about how they feel because often they cannot even identify what they are feeling. Suicide, self-mutilation, eating disorders and much more are all prevalent in the young adult age group. “Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among those 5-14 years old.” Don’t believe me?

books allow us to set our minds free to roam another world.

When I was 15 I was in a very dark place and the only thing that I could relate to was my characters in novels where they were feeling pain. Some felt more pain than others, but nonetheless I was not alone. We all, at every age, experience that feeling of being Other.

In my last blog post I discussed Sherman Alexie’s book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian where he highlights poverty, othering, isolation, depression, alcoholism, physical abuse, and even bulimia. But his novel is not dark, it is simply, honest. There is nothing light about being 15 besides that you don’t have a mortgage or children to be responsible for. Many teens face enormous pressure from nearly every aspect of their lives: they are in a transitional period, are getting to find who they are, they’re making new friends, losing friends, finding love and losing love, struggling with self image, pressure within the academic sphere, and so on. It is not a simple task to grow up in our society in this generation, and books…they can be a healthy escape to a place where teens feel safe, understood, and maybe even feel less alone.

As Sherman Alexie stated:

“There are millions of teens who read because they are sad and lonely and enraged. They read because they live in an often-terrible world. They read because they believe, despite the callow protestations of certain adults, that books-especially the dark and dangerous ones-will save them….I became the kid chased by werewolves, vampires, and evil clowns in Stephen King’s books. I read books about monsters and monstrous things, often with monstrous language, because they taught me how to battle the real monsters in my life.”

Interested? clicky click.

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