I really think Caitlin Flanagan (and The Atlantic) jumped the shark with this ridiculous article about teen fiction, "What Girls Want". Here are my biggest eye rolling quotes:
1. "Divorce in a young-adult novel means what being orphaned meant in a fairy tale: vulnerability, danger, unwanted independence. It also means that the protagonists must confront the sexuality of their parents at the moment they least want to think about such realities."
(News to Hilary McKay, Barbara Shoup, Cecil Castellucci and hundreds of other authors who have written realistic novels about kids from broken homes who do not live like the children in fairy tales.) (And really - when did we decide it was still okay to make sweeping statements like this about any facet of society, let alone literature?)
2. "I hate Y.A. novels; they bore me."
(Which explains why you are writing an article on YA novels, of course.)
3. Twilight is fantastic.
4. "After a friend (toward whom Bella has gently been directing one of her own admirers) finally goes on a big “date” (a lost world right there, in a simple word), she phones Bella, breathless: “Mike kissed me! Can you believe it?” It was a scene that could have existed in any of the books I read when I was an adolescent; but in today’s world of Y.A. fiction, it constitutes an almost bizarre moment."
(Because apparently modern YA fiction is full of porn. I'm sure this will be news to Sherman Alexie, John Green, Chris Crutcher and pretty much every other YA novelist on the planet.)
5. "This is a vampire novel, so it is a novel about sex, but no writer, from Bram Stoker on, has captured so precisely what sex and longing really mean to a young girl."
(I've heard Bram Stoker credited for many things but never that he was attempting to capture what "sex and longing" meant for young girls.) (And really - ew.)
6. "As I write this, I am sitting on the guest-room bed of a close friend, and down the hall from me is the bedroom of the daughter of the house, a 12-year-old reader extraordinaire, a deep-sea diver of books. She was the fourth person through the doors of the Westwood Barnes & Noble the midnight that the series’ final volume, Breaking Dawn, went on sale, and she read it—a doorstop, a behemoth—in six hours, and then turned back to page one as though it were the natural successor to the last page."
(This would be the part where we see why Flanagan is qualified to write this article - she knows a 12 year old! Of course she thus knows every single thing there is to know about teenagers and books!)
And the one that particularly addresses our concerns here at GLW:
7. "The salient fact of an adolescent girl’s existence is her need for a secret emotional life—one that she slips into during her sulks and silences, during her endless hours alone in her room, or even just when she’s gazing out the classroom window while all of Modern European History, or the niceties of the passé composé, sluice past her. This means that she is a creature designed for reading in a way no boy or man, or even grown woman, could ever be so exactly designed, because she is a creature whose most elemental psychological needs—to be undisturbed while she works out the big questions of her life, to be hidden from view while still in plain sight, to enter profoundly into the emotional lives of others—are met precisely by the act of reading." (emphasis mine)
(No comment from me - just the sound of my head hitting the desk over and over again.)
[See Finding Wonderland and Miss Rumphius for more discussion of this truly inane piece of journalism.]