Who has a right to comment?

There’s a really interesting debate here about the merits of analysing young adult books for the beauty (or otherwise) of their prose.

It reminds me of my friend, who was absolutely outraged when I told her that an adult book group had recently read Dream Land and then invited me to discuss it with them. if her book group had chosen a YA book, she said, she would have walked out in protest.

Yes, I have supportive friends.

Her point (I think) was not so much that Dream Land, or any other YA book, is unworthy of serious discussion, but that discussion by adults is a kind of contradiction in terms, showing the book is not doing the job it was written – or marketed – for. As a book for teens, the people who should be reading and discussing it are teenagers themselves.

I don’t myself see why engagement from children and teens has to exclude engagement from adults, although I do think that many well-read adults will read and analyse a book in a different (not necessarily more sophisticated or valid) way than younger readers.

But my friend does have a point about these debates over YA literature, which all too often resemble all the other debates about young people today – i.e. completely lacking in input from the people in question. When an articulate teen does join the fray the response is one of David Attenborough-like hushed awe to a sighting of a rare, theoretically cherished but rather misunderstood elusive beast…

Shhh! It might run away!

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