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26 January 2013


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"One of the stranger recent cultural shifts is that teenage fiction has become a branch of oncology."

Recent? I guess he didn't spend the 1980s reading Lurlene McDaniel, did he? She had the market saturated for years.

It's true that real teens don't get cancer anywhere near as often as they do in books. OTOH, they don't fight zombies, meet vampires, commit incest, or lots of other things as often either. Do teens like reading about the Holocaust and cancer (and, when I was a teen, autism, anorexia, etc.) and for that matter terrifyingly deadly wizarding schools partly because they offer excitement and catharsis without actually being likely to happen to a kid from the suburbs?


Agreed, definitely, that it's not a new trend (though there were a TON of cancer books last year), but I think that the second half of what I've quoted here (about it being a 'safe' subject) is saying the same thing that you are, yes? :D


Sort of, yeah. I was thinking of it more from the reader's perspective than from the author's. And if kids want to read cancer books and stuff about horrifying things that will never actually happen to them, why not? I'm not sure it's really all that great and morally superior to always read about awful things that really could happen to you, though that has its place. (Or maybe I'm thinking that as an adult--I like reading non-fiction about the world, but I don't much like to read *fiction* about realistic awful things because hey, life is already pretty tough without that. I have 3 friends with cancer IRL and don't need imaginary ones.)

On a slightly different note, DWJ had a lot to say about the idea that the best book for a kid living through an awful divorce would be a book about a kid living through a divorce. She thought it was a rotten idea, and since she had a much worse childhood than I did, I figure she probably knew what she was talking about.


16 out of every 100,000 kids get cancer? So it's not an actual issue teens face? Tell that to the teen patrons of my library. In our small rural Kentucky county (population 30,000), we currently have three teens undergoing chemo (one of them a frequent library user) and have lost two children under the age of ten in the past five years. I don't think any of my teens see it as a "safe suject" but a mirror of what they're seeing happening to their friends and classmates.

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