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magicalmartha in thosebooks

YA Lit Class, a.k.a. My Life Is Awesome Right Now

I'm taking a class on YA Lit for my library science degree. I get to read an assload of YA lit from all over the map, and talk about it for three hours every week with a whole classroom of people who get just as excited about them as I do. Also? My professor is awesome and snarky and has been specializing in YA lit for thirty years.

I win at school, is basically what I'm saying.

Our syllabus is 23 pages long. For every class, we have to read 4-5 books, and then my prof also has about a half a page of recommended additional reading (which she says she doesn't expect us to do, but has been provided in case we want to explore the weekly themes even more). For class last night, we read:

Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly: Snoozefest. Nothing HAPPENS in it, which is understandable because it was written in 1942. All I could think while reading it was that if it had been written now the main character would have banged the love interest and then probably pledged undying love. 

Forever... by Judy Blume: Pretty much the same book as Seventeenth Summer, although Kathy and Michael have sex.  Planned, protected sex.  I love Judy Blume.

The Contender by Robert Lipsyte: Can I tell you how much I love inspirational sports stories?  I LOVE inspirational short stories.  This was also interesting to read now, because it's a book about black kids in a black neighborhood written by a white guy; in light of the current media atmosphere surrounding The Help, I can't help but think Lipsyte's book would not have become the seminal book today that it did in the 60's.  Which is too bad, because The Contender is pretty excellent.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: It's a little odd reading a book about greasers that's so...romantic, I guess?  I dunno, the voice that the main character has just drips with love about nearly every person in his social circle.  I just wanted to snuggle him a little.  And watch the movie, because I guess Rob Lowe is in it, and the idea of Rob Lowe playing a leather-jacket-wearing, smoking greaser is just PRECIOUS.

The Pigman by Paul Zindel: A commentary on the disaffected youth of 1960's America.  I guess?  Mostly I just wanted John and Lorraine to get jobs.  I'm not really fond of things that are inherently awkward, so I spent most of my time reading this feeling really sad.

For next week, I've got:
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
A Hero Ain't Nothing But A Sandwich by Alice Childress
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush by Virginia Hamilton
Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack by M.E. Kerr

in case anyone is interested in what my professer considers to be representative of early influential YA lit.  Feel free to read along! :P

Comments

bb do you follow Judy Blume on Twitter? She's darling.

I haven't read The Outsiders since I was in middle school, but now I really want to pick it up again! I'm so jealous of your course load this semester, negl.

in light of the current media atmosphere surrounding The Help, I can't help but think Lipsyte's book would not have become the seminal book today that it did in the 60's.

I dunno. Even though there's been a lot of controversy surrounding The Help, Hollywood still loves its White Teacher Finding The Meaning Of Life By Helping Underprivileged Black Students trope. They release one of those movies every year with a lot less flack than The Help is receiving, and books never seem to garner as much attention as movies do (no one cared about The Help until it was a movie).
I do not yet follow Ms. Blume on twitter, but I shall start posthaste.

I'm not sure it's fair to say that no one cared about The Help until it was a movie - I get most of my media news from Entertainment Weekly, and they've been running pretty constant commentary on it since it started getting popular. Now, since EW is pretty sensationalist, I don't really know if the reactions they were reporting were the popular opinion, but I do think it had some steam before it got optioned.

I do think that if The Contender had been released more recently, it would at least have been more controversial, whether that's fair to the book or not - and almost beside the point, since the book is as much a love story to boxing as it is about interracial mentorship.