In the first week of this course we discussed a few myths surrounding young adults. The negative assumption that teens are seemingly bored, apathetic, and self-absorbed may alternatively be seen as the initial steps in a new stage of the developmental process. For instance, last semester a student in LIBR 521 recalled the bonding experience when reading children’s literature with her mother. Looking back, her reading experiences became increasingly intimate as she matured into her teen years. She believed that this transition was a valuable turning point in her reading development.Harvard Psychologist Adam Phillips addresses issues of boredom in chapter 7 of his book On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored (1993). He believes that “the child’s boredom starts as a regular crisis in the child’s developing capacity to be along in the presence of the mother. In other words, the capacity to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child” (69). Framed in this way, we have a different way of understanding a teenager’s actions (or lack thereof).
I just spotted a couple of articles about the political modelling going on in YA dystopias: What Occupy can Learn from the Hunger Games and a comment on that article that asks Are YA dystopias secretly conservative? Reading them in that order is probably your better bet.
It seems like there’s some connection there in wondering about the ramifications of political messages for these impressionable readers, and discounting their agency. Rosenberg says the message of opting out is “worrying, given the age of the target audience” which isn’t a full on “These kids today’ll believe anything,” but I was sensitive to it after this week’s readings.
Also, this review of Z for Zachariah had a bit calling a character’s decision “very pacifistic, almost dangerously so” which struck me as interesting for its use of non-politically correct ideas.
Anyway, what do you think? I’d be interested to hear more stories about large scale political reform for YA, myself.