Darkness Too Visible
Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse,
violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?
Amy Freeman, a 46-year-old mother of three, stood recently in the young-adult
section of her local Barnes & Noble, in Bethesda, Md., feeling thwarted and
She had popped into the bookstore to pick up a welcome-home gift for her
13-year-old, who had been away. Hundreds of lurid and dramatic covers stood on
the racks before her, and there was, she felt, “nothing, not a thing, that I
could imagine giving my daughter. It was all vampires and suicide and
self-mutilation, this dark, dark stuff.” She left the store empty-handed.
How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a
child, my dear: So dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal
beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly
speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.