Diving Into Difficult Topics with Books (Part 1)
The world is filled with a lot of negativity and difficult situations. It's also filled with awkward stuff, misunderstandings, and confusing transitions through life. A lot of times, people wish they could have do-overs of certain moments knowing what they learned after the experience. Sometimes it's for awareness, preparedness, or redemption. Regardless, no one has a time machine.
But we do have books. There's been a couple different moments lately that got me thinking about books, censorship, and how books really are a safe space too explore topics that are tough to discuss or process. From starting and graduating high school, leaving for college, navigating breakups (of the romantic and friendship varieties), or seeing different takes on how people think of sex, YA on its most basic level navigates some of the biggest moments of teen years that no one is ever prepared for.
Books offer a safe space to contemplate regular teen moments and more intense situations that seem like they should only belong in scary commercials on TV. I love how so many books unflinchingly approach stories that are gritty and unpleasant and make you want to flinch away because a reader will either find it cathartic or educational, teaching empathy by letting you see the world through the eyes of someone struggling with addiction, self harm, mental illness, or many more of life's tough situations.
While trigger warnings and careful consideration should be offered to each and every book, I think the books that choose to honestly go there have the power to change the world and should not be skipped just because it's hard. Though everyone responds differently to the uncertainties of the world or their personal traumas, books can be an instrumental part of gaining a better understanding of experiences or the world around you.
I've been thinking about this for a few weeks, ever since I got asked by a mom to recommend YA book for her fifteen year old daughter that did not include cussing or sex. I was speechless for a moment. While I know parents have the right to raise their kids however they want and there are many parents who censor their kids books, I was both shocked and running a blank. There's plenty of YA that doesn't have sex, but I kept getting stuck on the swearing or other content I could only imagine would cause her mother to freak out. As I pulled books that I'd enjoyed and handed them to the girl, her mother would pull them out of her hand and dismiss them for having LGBTQIA characters or a million other things I couldn't figure out. We eventually found a book that passed the intenser test, but it left me wondering what the mother thought she was protecting her sophomore aged daughter from.
High schools have far worse content on the daily than any book I could have pulled off the shelf for her.
It also made me thankful that my mom, a devoted reader as well, never questioned what I read. She finds my fascination with darker, grittier books interesting, if a little confusing, but she'd never stop me from reading anything. I asked her why she'd never really questioned me, and she replied with something like she hoped that books could be conversation starters between us. She's always agreed with my view that books are safe spaces. (Honestly, she's probably where I got the idea in the first place).
I was going to include a list of books to go with the post, but I realized that the post was going to get really long and I wouldn't be able to do as much with the list as I wanted to, so I'm going to make my first 2 part post ever. I guess that makes this the super long intro for Sunday's list? Anyway, I hope that this discussion made you think about how we view books, how they're censored, and how they can be used! I'll be back Sunday with a list of books that have helped me, change my POV, made me more empathetic, or that I found really educational.
Trigger Warnings Show Empathy: Here
Links of Interest:
The Second Life of Ava Rivers: Review Here
The Joy of Visiting The Library: Here
Tell Me How You Really Feel: Review Here
The Fear of Missing Out: Review Here