Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Is "Sick-Lit" bad for teenagers?

I'm reading a book at the moment called "The Fault in our stars" by John Green. It's about two teenagers with terminal cancer who fall in love and find joy in their final days together. I'm pregnant at the moment and last night I read a particularly sad bit and I started bawling, tears streaming down my face, big loud sad sobs that had my husband rushing up to me all concerned.

"What's wrong?" He gasped.

"This-book-is-really-sad!" I said between sobs.

He rolled his eyes, smiled, and said "Aww, Jeez..." and walked off shaking his head at his crazy, adorable pregnant wife.

"The Fault in our stars" has been labeled "Sick Lit" by some people in the media and publishing. "Sick Lit" is a genre of fiction that deals with teenagers combating real life issues like death, illness, self-harm, drugs, bullying and drinking. Another famous book in this genre is "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold. The Lovely Bones is about a girl who is raped and murdered and spends the book looking down on her family and friends from haven and watching them as they move on with their life.

I've read the book twice and it's a sad, wonderful story. I loved the film version too but not a lot of others did. It wasn't that it was a bad film, it was just depressing, and I think the reason it failed was because not a lot of people want to go and see a film about a little girl who is raped and murdered and goes to heaven. We don't want to think about such terrible things happening.

I told my Mum she should read "The fault in our stars" because I think it's written really well. Her response was "I don't like sad books" The problem a lot of people have with "sick lit" is they think that these books are too emotionally intense and that readers in particular young adults should not have to "deal" with the real life issues featured in them.

I actually read one article about sick lit that said Twilight was a better book for young adults to read because it was a harmless fantasy. There is something a little hilarious about people wanting young adults to read books about vampires rather than a book about real life issues like death, illness, and depression because god forbid they even think about such things.

Death, illness, depression and sadness are a part of life. Vampires, while fun to read about, are not. Why should we hide these books from young teens? Some people think that if kids read about sick kids dying from cancer it somehow "glorifies" being sick or if they read about kids who self-harm that they might run out and try it themselves.

There's also been a lot of criticism about kids in sick lit books having bucket lists that include having sex. That's encouragin pre-martial sex!!! Um, so? If a kid is 16 and dying of cancer, let them have sex, let them live the rest of their short life out how they choose. After all it's THEIR bucket list.

And how, exactly, can you glorify having cancer? I'm about half way through the fault in our stars and there is nothing about the kids in that book that makes me go "Wow, these kids are so inspiring!" It just makes me sad. Imagine being 16 and knowing you will not live more than a couple of years. Imagine having to go to bed at night hooked up to an oxygen tank. It does not sound like fun. This book makes me grateful to be healthy, alive, happy and about to have my first child. It does not make me want to develop cancer to get attention and special gifts from people.

Why do we treat teenagers like idiot children? And why do some people want to shield them from everything in life? It's just stupid. You can plug your child's ears with cotton wool, you can wrap them in bubble wrap, and you can put them up on a shelf but eventually they'll wiggle free, pull the wool out of their ears and unwrap themselves and will go out into the big world on their own. A good parent raises a child to become an adult. They do not hide a child in a cupboard so it will remain young and innocent and shielded forever. You cannot hide things like cancer and death. They exist in this world. Let you child read these books. It will not harm them. It will make them appreciate life more and the feel of sunshine on their face.

No comments:

Post a Comment