For those of you who haven't heard, the WSJ has written an awful article about YA and how it's just so horrible now. How it's all dark and curses and it's just not good for teens today. They claim that years ago things were different (I take it they never read Cynthia Voigt's Izzy, Willy, Nilly or Fat Chance by Leslea Newman, or any of the other various novels....)
But here's the truth, if you're ready for it. Are you ready? Okay....here is it:
High school can be a very, very dark place for some of us.
Some of us don't even make it out alive.
When I was a freshmen, the very, very hot boy who sat near me in my seminar class was killed in a drinking and driving accident. His name was Fred Horak, and I barely knew him...just the sadness that surrounded his death (oh, and a year or so prior, his sister died of meningitis.)
As the year went on, my sister's best friend, Kara died from cancer. Less than 4 months later, my best friend, Kellie, died in a car accident (non-alcohol related). After Kellie died, I fell apart and nothing was the same. I couldn't deal with life, I barely moved or got out of bed....things just stopped. Then the girl who sat next to me in my creative writing class tried to kill herself because of a boy and other issues....It was like a slap in the face. When she came back to school, we showed our scars to each other and I tried to tell her that there was something to hold onto, but I wasn't even sure if I was telling the truth...
Add in the fact I lived with my crazy mother and her alcoholic and mentally abusive boyfriend...and things were not so happy in my world.
Soon enough the boy who made my world start revolving again cheated on me. (I found out the day before Valentine's Day). Then shortly after I tore my ACL snowboarding and had to get surgery and was told I may never run again. My high school cross country coach treated me unfairly to the point my sister cursed him out at a meet, in front of the entire team (and parents). I had to meet with the principal, the super, and various other higher up figures in the school system.
And then when I was 16-17, I moved out of my mother's into my sister's and the boy's because if not, if I had stayed I would have killed myself.
But this is my own, personal story and even still, I'm leaving out a lot.
And I survived.
Because I spent a majority of my time writing Confessions of an Immortal Heart, because I read books that kept me sane. Because I watched Soap Operas and stood up for myself and refused to be treated shittily ever again.
So here's to you, Wall Street Journal. For those of you who think that growing up is easy, or full of puppies and kittens and happy little rainbows, or whatever else kind of lies that you're looking for in our novels, it's not. If anyone tells you that it is, it's complete bullshit. Not all of us survive, and those of us who do are left with scars that will always be apparent, that will make future relationships difficult, staying alive even harder. And we write about these experiences with our characters because while, yea, they may be dark, they do happen in real life.
High school sucked for me, and I'm sure beyond any doubt that I am not the only one. So I write truth, and about friends who die, and mental health issues, and how deeply words can truly cut people because that is and that was real to me at the time.