The dark side of YA – how much is too much?

Coming back to a topic that we’ve discussed on here before — what is appropriate content in a YA novel? This question is in regards to violence, sex, language, and adult themes, all of which are rated material in the movies. However, the publishing industry has no such ratings. Literature cannot be rated, right? It would mar the artistic value of it and limit its voice.

And yet, so many parents ask me, how do I know that a book I pick up in the teen section is appropriate for my child?

Let me tell you, there’s no easy way to answer this question. My best advice, even concerning my own books, is to have parents read the book first. But that, my friends, is a sacrifice of time.

I recently read a fantastic post titled “Darkness Too Visible” by Megan Cox Gurdon (okay, I love that a book reviewer shares part of my name!). It’s almost a year old, but it’s a wonderful essay on the subject matter.

It makes me proud that I took a stand on explicit swearing and gratuitous violence in my Teen Mobster Series. And that’s not an easy thing to do, considering the subject matter. Some might say that isn’t very brave of me, but I’ll tell you what, it’s what I’m comfortable presenting to that age bracket.


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