Lament, Ballad by Stiefvater beg the question – What language is ok in YA?

The new Books of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater were certainly novels that held me. I actually enjoyed the second one, Ballad, over the first, Lament, probably because I liked the perspective of James better than his friend, Deidre. You bet I’ll be one of the first in line for Requiem (we YA authors love doing trilogies – or maybe it’s the publishers?).

However, I did notice a huge difference between the first and second books that was interesting. Lament had a level of vulgarity that wasn’t surprising to me, especially since I came into contact with true faerie lore on a trip to Ireland in 2004. I was a little taken aback by the use of the “f” word in Stiefvater’s first installment, only because I myself like to broaden my audience, and this can be very offensive to certain gatekeepers – school librarians, teachers, and most importantly, parents. However, there’s some great discussion out there about whether vulgar language is appropriate in YA literature, and I do commit to the philosophy that an author has to make a decision based on the character, the story, and his or her level of comfort. I don’t buy the argument that just because kids hear swearing all the time that it’s okay to write it in. That’s a weak argument. But making a decision based on being true to your characters and yourself as an author certainly has merit. Kidlit.com has a great discussion here (and another followup here).

Any thoughts from teens? Parents? Writers?

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