There are mixed blog reactions thus far. Normally I know exactly how I think about these kinds of things, but I'll admit I myself am a little confused by this. It seems like a solid money-maker either way, and basically will probably be a very strong seller. This means Bushnell has an excellent opportunity with these books to do a classy, smart YA book about an ambitious young woman who suddenly gets herself into a position of privilege and realizes her dream.
However, from my current perspective, there seems to be some considerable risk that the book falls short, or in fact plays into some of the truly malicious themes and trends in YA literature these days (my least favorite by far is all the sexualized back-stabbing in books that are so popular with teenage readers--why do female YA authors all seem to want to write about girls tearing out one another's eyes and betraying one another over boys? Aren't there other topics that are far more interesting, never mind more feminist?).
How will you play it, Candace? Which way will you go?
I'll admit, for the most part, I love Sex and the City. The movie was pretty appalling for about 1500 reasons, but the show was sharp, incisive, and often shaving-the-bone true. I think it was frequently misunderstood as a catalog of rich bitches who were also sluts--I know my father, for one, thought of the show that way for a long time. But as any devotees know there was a lot more to it than that.
But a YA version?
Ok, so we're getting comfortable with the idea that adults have sex, and that there are issues to talk about--pros, cons, mistakes to avoid, healing mechanisms to study, real life that gets in the way of what we want. Fine for an adult tv show, mostly. But what about a teen book that feeds into the adult tv show? Are young readers smart enough to pull the wisdom out of it all? Or--as some bloggers seem to worry about this book--are they going to be blinded by the bling and the sex, and will this just be another spoke in the wheel of trash that keeps going around and around the YA section these days?
There's a lot on ya, Candace.
GalleyCat readers might remember some conversations from a couple of weeks ago about a morality clause Random House has for its children's and YA books. (Here's the article that started it, "Are You Pure Enought to Write YA?") The clause:
"If you act or behave in a way which damages your reputation as a person suitable to work with or be associated with children, and consequently the market for or value of the work is seriously diminished, and [sic] we may (at our option) take any of the following actions: Delay publication / Renegotiate advance / Terminate the agreement."
You'll notice this conversation deals with an author's behavior, not the book's content. There are a lot of points to be made about whether or not it's fair for a publishing company to judge an author's (so, essentially, a freelance employee's) behavior, and also about what standards they might use to judge. But I really think the more important conversation by far with YA books is the content.
As I've talked about before, I am not a prude, and believe that young adults (and children) will seek out books about sex (umm, at least, if they're anything like I was). The trend that bothers me in YA fiction these days isn't sex--sex sells, we get it already. It's irresponsible sex, especially antifeminist sex in books that are directly marketed (almost exclusively) to young girls. It's sex that glorifies casual, unsatisfying encounters and implies that girls need to rely on their looks and bodies to be worthwhile or appreciated. It's also sex that tells girls repeatedly that their female friends are only ever going to let them down, and that they need to lock themselves a man.
So anyway. I'm waiting on you, Candace. Let's see what you come up with.
What do you think, my blogging friends?