So I'm a Bookseller and with a good friend of mine we work together to form an awesome team that are in charge of the Children's Books in our store. We love Children's Books and this also includes YA fiction. Including John Green.
We are HUGE John Green fans and we love recommending his books to customers that come in to the store. Recently we have been reluctant to do this because this happened. You will have to go to Customer Reviews and will then need to look at the second review by Glover. Just as an aside, it was not shelved next to Flat Stanley or Beast Quest, which are books for 5-8 year olds!
Obviously we are wary of recommending books to parents with sexually explicit content in them BUT it prompted a conversation with my friend about YA books and how it was always the overall message that you get from the story, rather than just solely focusing on the tiny snippets of sexual content or violence that can occasionally be in them- which adults always seem to do.
Books like Judy Blume's Forever even The Hunger Games has sex and violence in them but ultimately they are examples of fantastic and popular storytelling.
What do you guys think? We took down our personal recommend card that we had for Looking for Alaska because of what happened. Do you think we should have? I'd love to hear your opinions.
I think (being a teenager) that most teens already know what the sexual content is in the novels, through friends' descriptions, accurate or not. When I read a book and come across minor sexual content, I think it's no big deal. It's the plot that matters. Parents seem to forget how teenagers operate and become obsessed with the minor details.
I agree. There is some sexual content in many teen books, which is in my opinion not bad at all. As said before, teens do get in touch with sexual content through friend's descriptions or the media. Even if they didn't, teen literature is a great way to present topics as this one to teenagers. It's often about first love, dating, school problems, dealing with losing your loved ones, drugs...Basically things they may or may not come in contact with during adolescence. Literature is perhaps the best was to present them with such things (sexuality being one of them) and help them to create their opinions. Parents should just relax, if they are worried about the image of sexuality their children might pick up, maybe they should just TALK to their children. Sexuality will be a part of their adult life and treating it as a taboo in their youth won't help anyone.
I think you should have just left the card there. Things like sex and drugs are not subjects that should be shied away from. They are a part of life and can't be avoided (maybe if you try really really hard) so it's better to learn about them instead of just remaining ignorant and not knowing how to react when problems are encountered. Schools normally teach students about sex and drugs too but teachers rarely mention the feelings and thoughts you have when you deal with them in real life. It's mainly just "do this, don't do that". I think books and movies are great at giving teens insight into the situations they may be faced with and showing them how to deal with them. Besides, it's not like teens are innocent little lambs. They probably know all this anyway.
As a teenager, I find it extremely stupid of adults to cause a ruckus over sexual content in books. First of all, they don't make a big deal out of reading older books like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Of Mice and Men, or Le Morte d'Arthur, all of which include sex, often of a darker nature. Likely, they've not read them to know; but they should be aware that sex has never been cut out of the school curriculum, nor should it be.
Almost 100% of the time, the sex is there to contribute to the overall message, convey the deep reality of certain issues, or educate the public on the emotions so intrinsic to it, the significance of it. (Example: Speak starts out with the main character being raped at a party; without this event, the emotional journey she later undergoes would be meaningless and far less touching. We read this in 7th grade, and we loved it.) Understanding one's sexual nature is an important part of growing into a healthy person, and a high school sex ed class does very little in that regard. The stigma against allowing teenagers to explore what sex means to themselves and others only deepens misunderstanding and ignorance on all sides; besides which, it only makes us more curious!
Rant aside, Looking for Alaska is a wonderful book with a poignant message, and unless they threaten to sue you or something idiotic like that, you should keep recommending it and any others like it!
Agreed with what has been said. Could not have put it any better.
There is a pretty clear distinction between explicit pornography and sexual content in fictional, thematic works. That distinction is rather blurry to the more sensitive parents who may freak out (Sure, keeping visual porn from the hands and eyes of minors is a valid concern for parents, but that shouldn't be tied into books that are meant to educate, not arouse).
Porn pleases the body, but young adult fiction pleases - and enlightens - the mind.
Wow, thanks for these replies. I'm really glad to hear these opinions and I certainly agree with you all. I mean, that's the view I have of the books that I read when I was a teenager. Some adults focus too much on preventing sex and violence reaching children but at the same time they are unwilling to come up with innovative ways to educate children on these topics and I think books are a brilliant way of doing just that.
The lady that had this problem ended up going to the local newspaper and telling her story to them! It was quite ridiculous. Also, I was worried about her review being on the website but thankfully some people have written some awesome reviews for the book so her one is no longer as visible as it was before.
Thank you for your opinions, I feel less worried when I recommend books now!
i think thats stupid, if you are reading the book you know its coming, and you can skip a few pages,without missing anything really vital,(other than good writing) i think it boils down to overprotective mom.