Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

3.06.2008

Letter to Entertainment Weekly

I almost wrote this when I first read the review--and should have--but never quite got around to it. It won't show up on your letters page now, but maybe you can at least share it with the author as a bit of feedback.

In September, Thom Geier reviewed Before I Die by Jennie Downham. In that review, he wrote: "Unfortunately, Downham's publisher has handicapped Before I Die by labeling it a young-adult novel, thus ghettoizing this gem to the back of most bookstores. It's a shame, because this book is vastly superior to most so-called adult novels with high-school-age protagonists that have been embraced by the literary establishment."

I am a youth services librarian, so I mostly read children's and young adult books because I want to be knowledgeable about what is on our shelves. Yet I also read them because I enjoy them. Many of the YA books published each year are better than the majority of the adult ones (I'm reading Before I Die right now, and, while it's one of the better YA books I've read recently, it's definitely not the best). There are some excellent YA authors out there. In fact, I've read interviews with a number of them who started out as adult authors and moved into YA because they enjoy the freedom it gives them.

So instead of calling the YA label unfortunate and dismissing the majority of YA books in the minds of your readers, why not try touting them a bit? Read a few, because I assure you there are many others as good as and better than Before I Die. Even better, review a few more in the magazine. Why not have a periodical YA section the way you do with genres? Because adults can enjoy these as much as any teen. I do, and I'm far from unique.

If you need reading recommendations, I suggest the Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA) lists annually created by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) (Before I Die made the 2008 list of books published in 2007). (Or just ask; it's what I do for a living.)

P.S. I was finally motivated to write this letter because a colleague shared this.

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