Last year, I posted a rant about a couple of YA book reviews that had evoked my feminist rage. One of the book reviewers, Malcolm Tattersall, subsequently contacted me and expressed an interest in taking the discussion further. We were joined by the other reviewer, Tony Thompson, as well as Lili Wilkinson and Mike Shuttleworth. An edited version of our online discussion has now been published in the latest edition of Viewpoint. The article is titled Pink and Blue and Read All Over: Gender Issues in YA Fiction, but as far as I know, there isn’t an online version of the article. If that changes, I’ll post a link here.
I’ve only flicked through the latest Viewpoint, but a review of Aimee Said’s Little Sister and Sarah Dessen’s What Happened to Goodbye caught my eye, because the first sentence of the review states that “these are most definitely Girl Books”. I GIVE UP! No, wait, I don’t. I just finished reading the review by Jenny Zimmerman. It is mostly positive about both books, but concludes:
“I must protest about the deeply unhelpful message in almost everything aimed at adolescent girls. You know the one: Then She Met a Perfect Guy and Lived Happily Ever After . . . Mr Right is out there and waiting to rescue you from eating disorders, teen pregnancy, parental divorce or bullying. Unless there’s something profoundly odd about you, you will find him any day now. Is this what readers demand, or what writers feel must be included in fiction for young women? Yes, falling in love is a huge part of being a teenager, but it would be nice to come across some YA fiction which doesn’t assume that a girl without a boyfriend is an unfinished story.”
Well, I can think of a few YA novels that end with “a girl without a boyfriend”. All of my novels, for example. At the end of The Rage of Sheep, Hester drives off with her trusty dog and her Walkman, perfectly capable of solving her own problems – and I can’t imagine any of the FitzOsborne girls waiting around for a boy to rescue them.