I’m Lourdes, and I’m a read-a-holic, thus my position on the YARN team. My blog entries, head’s up, will probably be extremely scatter-brained; I tend to have many interests. However, this being my first, I’m going to be very blunt and tell you my opinion about the re-issuing of some old school YA.
Define old school YA for us, Lourdes. Sure. Old school YA is young adult literature published before 1999. (This year gave us exceptional YA including “Hard Love,” “Speak,” and “Burger Wuss,” which reflects the YA of now and makes it a perfect cut off date.) I give it this definition because the current population of teens either were being conceived or were too young to read any YA published before 1999.
Now, how did this issue come to my attention? Well, every time I go to bookstores I’m pulled towards the YA section. When there, I scan the new books, write the titles down, and hope my library already owns them. But during my scanning process I’ll always discover an old book with a new cover and it, without fail, stops me in my tracks. Christopher Pike? He wrote a new book? Nah, it’s from 1993. OOO, a bloody rose cover. It must be a new supernatural romance. No, it’s only “Wuthering Heights”. . .? Now, nothing against Pike and Bronte but publishers also need to re-release more old school YA. Publishers shouldn’t solely re-release books because of a vampire spike (see what I did there with “spike”—that’s the type of witty banter you can expect from me) or because Bella read the book. They should re-release some M.E. Kerr, some Robert Lipsyte, some Paul Zindel. These authors were writing great YA (with brilliant characters, top notch prose, and creative plots) before 1999 and should be recognized in 2010. Give their books new covers, publish ads for them on MySpace, Facebook, and have reviewers re-review them. Teens don’t know who these authors are, but they should. The YA of today is so wonderful; however, these older books don’t stand a chance unless they are re-released. As a result of this new marketing, old school YA would end up in the Targets, Walmarts, and Barnes and Nobles of the world where teens buy their books and can learn about YA’s origins. By re-releasing these books publishers could give old school YA a chance.
Recently, I read, via Barry Lyga’s website, that Lois Duncan’s books were being re-released with new interviews, one of which is with Mr. Lyga. This is what I mean. There should be a more definite connection between new YA and old YA. I don’t see one now. Instead, I see parts of YA’s history ignored or even forgotten simply because some books aren’t current enough. New YA and old school YA represent one genre, one movement, and one identity. They aren’t separate entities. Old school YA books may not have the words LOL and ROFL in their plots but they do have romance, conflict, growth, and life. Old school YA is the foundation on which current YA is built and it should not be overlooked by teens or even adults – it should be read.
I didn’t always think like this. I didn’t know what old school YA even was until year ago; however, after writing a 28 page thesis on “The Odyssey of the YA Label” I had an unavoidable change of heart. I write this blog so that you can avoid writing a 28 page thesis and instead experience it for yourself. I write this blog because I now admire old school YA and have a hunger for it. I write this blog because I want you to learn from my mistakes. After all, mistakes, as James Joyce once wrote “are the portals of discovery.”
Until another verbal dive into my mind, this is Lourdes signing off.
(Don’t forget to be awesome.)
Post Scriptum: Want to learn from my mistakes? Check out these titles:
“Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes” –Chris Crutcher
“Whirligig” –Paul Fleischman
“I Stay Near You” – M.E. Kerr
“One Fat Summer” –Robert Lipsyte
“Fade” –Robert Cormier