Maybe this is crazy, but I’m beginning to suspect young adult fiction authors don’t always have the best interests of your kids at heart. As a matter of branding, even the term “young adult fiction” is dishonest. The target market isn’t comprised of “young adults” in any legal or cultural sense, but the phrase is a bit of patronizing flattery designed to appeal to kids who are naturally beginning to question authority. Questions about the need for parental authority aren’t really much of a concern for our new breed of edgy children’s authors. If anything, they are quite outspoken about the slings and arrows they suffer at the hands parents and educators who dare to question the value of their work.
Lauren Myracle proudly calls herself “the most banned writer in the US,” insofar as being banned means having near permanent residence on the ALA’s ridiculous list. (For what it’s worth, despite sounding focused-grouped, that is not a nom de plume.) Myracle best known as the author of a series of books including “ttyl,” “ttfn,” “l8r, gr8r.” Those are the actual titles. Ms. Myracle’s books are formatted to look like a Mac chat window and are post-modern epistolary novels from the point of view of teen girls who exclusively use “text speak,” e.g. “ttyl” is short for “talk to you later.” Text speak might be yet another classic example of a faddish teenage behavior that adults erroneously believe is more prevalent than it is. If the most famous literary diss is Capote’s crack about Kerouac—”that’s not writing that’s typing”—I’m not sure Myracle even managed the typing part. Critical acclaim for the book is indeed scant. “ttyl” features a single endorsement on both the front and back covers and they amount to the two most unintentionally backhanded blurbs in the history of publishing: “‘Changing the way you read.’ –Teen magazine” and “‘Perfectly contemporary.’ –Kirkus Reviews.”