A woman who sees the world through very different glasses

This is a recent review of PROM on Amazon:

“I found this book to be MORALLY bankrupt! SHOCKING!!, June 20, 2006

Reviewer: Mothers4Morals “Mothers4Morals” (Cincinnati,Ohio) – See all my reviews
This book promotes everything that parents and teachers DO NOT want their teenagers to do!! The “heroine” of the novel disputes authority, sleeps with her boyfriend, gets drunk, stays out late on a school nights wandering around downtown, and then passes out condoms to everyone at her high school prom.

The cover photo would have one believe it is a sweet, off-beat prom story when it really isn’t. This is NOT a book I’d recommend for anyone; let alone middle school students. Some examples of this books disturbing content are: When Ashley’s boyfriend gives her a cell phone, they take off their clothes and go to bed to celebrate, and at the prom, a couple engages in oral sex behind the bleachers. I was shocked to find these things in a book recommended for our youth. This is not the type of morality and behavior I want to instill my children. I am so sorry I bought it! Truly a waste of good money.”

I love how she put the word Heroine in quotation marks.

You know what makes me sad? She and I probably agree on most things.

Neither one of us want to see kids engaging in dangerous sexual practices. (I am willing to admit, though, that by 12th grade, 60% of teenagers have had sex, and 34% of girls are pregnant at least once by the time they are 20 – hence the concept that passing out condoms to 18-year-olds might be a good idea.) We both wish kids could have healthy relationships with adults they respect and can learn from. We both love our kids and want to raise them with a strong sense of morality and dignity. M4M and I could have coffee, and hang out. Honest.

Where we differ (apparently) is how to deal with kids who aren’t in that position. One of the points in PROM is that Ashley’s unhealthy behaviors – the ones that freaked M4M out so much – are not working for her. Ashley isn’t happy. She has a rotten boyfriend, and no sense of who she is or where she is going. I wrote it that way because I know that is how some kids live. And over the courses of the book, Ashley CHANGES…. ahem, did you hear that M4M? SHE GROWS, MATURES, AND CHANGES.

I wonder if M4M has so little trust in her children that she is afraid if they read a book like PROM they will suddenly start copying all of the behaviors? If anything, her kids would probably say “wow – that’s a crappy way to live. I’m sure glad Ash figured out her stuff by the end of the book.”

What do you think about this?

57 Replies to “A woman who sees the world through very different glasses”

  1. I agree with you. There’s no way to guarantee that teenagers are not exposed to any of those things (hell they could watch Friends and become more corrupted). The way to deal with it is through education and teaching them both sides of the story. Parents have to show their children what it is to be a good person and to be successful in all that they do, but in the end it’s up to the kids to decided what they do and do not do.

    At least she’s read it so she knows what her kids are reading. That’s more than some people do.

  2. For two semesters now, I have been a TA for a university-level Human Sexual Behavior class and I can attest to the fact that most teenagers do NOT know how to protect themselves and have rarely (if ever) been taught anything about safe sex. They start college thinking they are savvy about the world, but if people could see 400 shocked faces on students finding out that they can get STDs/STIs from oral sex, I think condoms would be handed out at every school event. At the end of last semester, we asked the students to turn in a piece of paper saying what they will remember most from the class. More than 75% of the students wrote “How to properly use a condom” or “how STIs are transmitted and how to be safe”. People who preach abstinence only education are really doing teenagers a disservice.

    One thing I liked about PROM *is* that Ashley realized that her life is going in a direction she does not like, so she does something about it. It sends a great message that just because things seem like they will “always be like this”, everyone has the internal power to say “no – I don’t want to do this”. The fact that she passes out condoms at the Prom is one of the many reasons I reccommend this books to students. 🙂 M4M really missed the boat here.

  3. Laurie, I think you are a genuis. You are so evolved and calm! I got a similar review for QoC, not from a mom, but from a kid, and I didn’t know how to explain that they had missed the whole point and that Libby grew, matured and changes, too. Instead of being eloquent like you, I cried.

    Thanks for showing the way.

    But you! You calmly explain what’s up and the how and the why. You are all grace and poise.

    The truth is that in life, people make messy mistakes, and characters in books that come from a vacuum and not from a real place, don’t have any juice in them. You write with juice.

    xo Cecil who salutes you!

  4. I agree with the points you make. I truly loved the book PROM. I like how Ashley changed in the end. I don’t agree with the way she lived, before, but if you really think about it, a lot teens probably have this kind of life. They need books like this written so they’re not alone and so they could have something to relate to. To me, all your books were written for a purpose, and one of them ISN’T so others could get a negative influence! I’ve read all your young adult novels, and I always finished them with a good message in mind. No one’s perfect, nor is anyone’s life. I mean, teen novels can’t all be like fairy tales because to me, they’re the hardest years for most people.

  5. I salute thee back, Miss Cecil!! Thanks for the kind words.

    Trust me, I have shed tears over reviews and angry letters (and personal confrontations) that have had this tone. But I am trying to learn from them.

    It helps to understand that this attitude comes from a genuine place of fear. This is what I can love about M4M – she sees what a scary place the world is, and she is afraid for the young people who are trying to get ready for it. So am I.

    There is fear behind most anger. Remember that.

    And cry if you need to. It’s healthy.

  6. What gets me is that so many of our youth DON’T think oral sex is *sex*. (I didn’t either, as a teen.) Come on, schools! Wake up and educate! (Or, I dare even say it–PARENTS, educate!) Sexually transmitted diseases can go genitals to MOUTH, too! I think it would be good to throw THAT in a YA! 😉 I don’t think I ever heard that as a kid. Oral sex seems like a great way to stay a virgin and keep one’s boyfriend happy. I’ve never read about any character suffering with a sexually transmitted disease. Yeah, I lucked out in my past. But how many don’t? I think PROM is a reflection of reality–and when the MC changes and matures, that’s a GOOD thing.

  7. i haved yet to read PROM, but i think teaching kids about sexuality, being real about it, is one of the most important things we can do.

    i forget where i heard this…but the country with the lowest teen pregnancy rate in the world is either the netherlands or sweden…i forget. anyway, they start teaching sex. ed. in *kindergarten*. maybe we’ve got it all wrong here in the US of A.

    keep fightin the good fight, i say!!

  8. Just because they don’t want their teenagers to do it doesn’t mean they don’t. I think, while Miss M4M wants the best for her children (no drugs, no sex until marriage, etc.), perhaps she’s too idealistic about high school (and even middle school). The world is not a pretty place, and, unfortunately, things like teen pregnancy and oral sex on school grounds does happen. And I actually liked the part with the condoms. Not every teen can talk to their parents (or other authority figure) about safe sex, or they won’t (for whatever reason) go out and buy a pack of condoms. While it doesn’t preach a strong abstinence message, it does show that there are safer ways to have sex. I thought that part showed that, if you’re going to have sex, be safe about it, and at the least use a condom.

    I did notice the lack of acknowledgment to the stealing teacher mentioned in the book. I’d have thought stealing was a bigger crime than safe sex. That’d be the one I’d be worried about my kids picking up. At least with sex it’s not completely illegal when you and your partner are both 18 or older.

    Perhaps M4M is an “ignorance is bliss” kind of women. However, I commend her for trying to teach morals and good behavior to her children as, from what I can tell, it seems to be something that gets harder and harder to do every day.

  9. I get so annoyed with adults who think that kids are too stupid to see the lessons the heros and heroines learn in situations like that. By telling us not to read it or that it shouldn’t have been written, it just makes us romanticize the bad behaviors. Parents need to let their kids read the books and learn from them without making it into a federal case that gasp the character has sex!! Just because a teenager hears about someone else doing it doesn’t mean that they will.

    And on the subject of passing out condoms, what’s the problem with that?! No, I don’t think that fourteen year olds should be out having sex. But the truth is that some of them do, and pretending it doesn’t happen or telling them not to isn’t going to solve the problem. Educating teenagers about contraception and the dangers of having sex (even protected) and then backing off and allowing them to make their own decisions about it is the best way to handle it. If you tell a fifteen year old “don’t do it, it’s wrong!” they’re going to just to piss you off. But if you tell them that it’s dangerous, prove it to them, and then allow them to decide, nine times out of ten they’ll make the right decision.

  10. I’ve got to go along with what others have said. Obviously, kids are going to make mistakes. I teach middle school, and one of my mantras that I recite (to keep my sanity when they do stupid stuff) is that “they’re not DONE yet.” They haven’t lived and made their mistakes like you and I have as adults. They are unfinished works of art.

    One of the reasons I think kids like to read books that are “real” is that they can look at them and say, “Wow, my life isn’t that bad.” They can pick out the message better than adults, who don’t give them enough credit a lot of the time.

    To look on the positive side, maybe Prom will get banned! I’d say that’s the best free publicity and author can get. Keep fightin’ that fight. If you stir someone to anger, at least you made them feel something. That’s good writing.

  11. I for one really loved Prom, because I could completely relate. That was what my high school expirience was like. No one told us about sex or drugs but every student in hs knew who was having sex and who was doing drugs and drinking. In sex-ed all they let the teachers talk about was abstinence. And then some parents refused to have their children sit through that. At my junior prom they handed out condoms, and come senior year we only had one girl who was pregnant instead of the usual 3, but they stopped handing out condoms at proms because parents freaked and this year there were 10 girls who graduated from my old high school pregnant and for some of them they already had children.

    It really annoys me when people complain about books dealing with these issues because I have a feeling that if they don’t want their children/teens to know about these issues then they are not talking to their children/teens about these issues.

    I understand that a lot of people have certain religious views on the topics of sex and drugs and I myself have some of those, but that doesn’t change the reality of what life was like for me or for other people like me. i think it’s just plain ignorance to not talk about them and to shelter children from things that sooner or later they will be confronted with because they will not know how to respond when they are confronted. when i have children i would want them to be informed so that if they are confronted with the topics of drug use and sex they can make a knowledgable and hopefully safe decision rather than be blindsided by something that they know nothing about. i think not talking about it does far more harm than talking or even reading about it.

  12. M4M sounds like the type of person who will read Harry Potter and believe that it promotes witchcraft.

    If Ashley was a perfect A-student who never tried alcohol or anything in her life and made the “correct” decisions no matter what, nobody would want to buy the book! Who wants to read about someone they can’t relate to? And although I don’t see a lot of myself in Ashley, I do see some of my friends in her, and this makes the book a lot more relatable.

    Many of Prom‘s readers are teens and young adults who can form their own opinions, and I doubt the book will influence anyone to skip detentions or have sex. M4M needs to get over herself and realize that the book is not preaching against morals, and that the heroine does discover the cons against her lifestyle in the end. She does get her act together.

    I actually just read Prom about a week ago and I couldn’t put it down. I love your writing style — even from the perspective of a character with whom I don’t have much in common, your way with words makes everything easy to relate to. The characters sound a lot like my friends and although we live a different lifestyle, our core problems are similar. Great job on tackling the “normal” kid! 🙂

  13. I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not — not everyone is willing to give kids the credit that they are due. There are always folks who assume that giving kids birth control is the same thing as encouraging sex, where I believe that they’ll have sex (or not) regardless, and that preventing disease and unwanted pregnancies is a way of teaching responsibility. Ah well — there’s usually no such thing as bad publicity.

  14. she may not have really read it, that’s the scary part. there’s a whole group of people who form lists of books that they object to, and pass the lists around to other like-minded folks, who then come to their local schools and libraries to complain about their availability. Scary times indeed.

  15. truth

    that’s right. so many teens are going to, whether they can do it safely or not. too many are embarrassed to ask for birth control or buy condoms that they just proceed without contraception. handing out the condoms was by no means immoral because it probably would have helped far more than it hurt, how many teens, when handed a condom, will suddenly rush off to find a parter? they don’t see it as permission, they see it as a safer route to where they will be anyway.

  16. LJ lurker finally speaks…

    I’m so amazed at your calm, well-explained, rational response to such a hurtful attack on your work. I’m currently in an MFA program (working on YA literature) and one of the big fears floating around in critique groups is amazon reviews. We’re all afraid we’re not going to be able to deal with them! I hope when I get to that point, I have the poise to deal with it as you did here.

    And I definitely agree that M4M missed the boat – Ashley’s life was changed for the better when she changed those habits that M4M objected to. Plus, if she objected to what happened so much, it would be a great starting point for conversation with her own daughter about what she thought was so awful and why. Some people just will never get it, I suppose…

    Oh, and not trying to name-drop or anything, but I think one of my instructors is a friend of yours. Hillary Homzie? I’m in her creative writing class this summer at Hollins.

  17. i agree with a lot of the commenters (commentators?) who said that they admired the way you handled the review. i honestly think that your book was really good and i did like that ashley changed in the end and she finally went to college and got out of her house. and to comment on the way that she lived her life before the end of the book (having sex with her boyfriend, getting drunk, going downtown, etc) i think it’s perfectly normal for her to live her life like that because every teenager/high school senior is rebellious in those senses. i agree with what people are saying about maybe she hasn’t read the book either. or maybe she just skimmed parts of it. who knows. maybe she’s a psycho mother who wants to keep her kids young and make them stay in a box forever. i don’t know. but i think that your books are good and they’re real page-turners and keep you going until the end. i can’t wait to read your new ones!

  18. mmmmmm-hmmmmm

    adults can be incredably stupid about teens and contraception

    I’m going to be a sophmore next year in the county that has the second highest teen pregnancy rate in the state (we used to be first but cook county, chicago finally beat us out for it) and this past year in health class our teacher wasn’t even allowed to give the putting a condom on a banana demonstration
    I mean, do they want to reduce teen pregnancy or not???

  19. I just love how she completely ignores the fact that “at the prom, a couple engages in oral sex behind the bleachers” AND THEN ASHLEY BREAKS IT UP.

  20. Books are the perfect medium for “experiencing” the problems that teens can go through. They give the reader time and space to think about what the characters are doing and what is happening to them. My mother never took a book away from me, and I didn’t realize until later what a gift that was. Yes, I had my share of problems, but they were not caused by books. I shudder to think what my teen years would have been like without the freedom to explore the varied and compelling stories that helped me understand the world around me a little better.

  21. Quick! Everyone turn away and pretend teen sex doesn’t exist!!!

    Um …


    It’s still there.


    That’s usually so effective, too.

  22. lol I’m talking an Adolescent lit class currently, and having read ‘Speak’ while I was in high school, for the class I decided I’d read ‘Prom’ and just yesterday I saw that review on Amazon and thought it was hilarious. With reading ‘Prom’, I have to come up with ways to use it in a cirriculum, so I found the review funny simply because, hey, there’s one mom my booklist would piss off. But you can’t please everyone I suppose, not that I want to. lol
    I think the character handing out condoms is a good thing; I just got out of high school three years ago, in my high school sex ed was one day within health class. We were taught abstinence only sex ed, which I feel is another crock, but anyways…..the students were all taught NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE, yet I can’t remember a year in high school where I didn’t know at least 5 pregnant girls. The part of Vermont I come from…southern vermont…has a higher rate of teen pregnancy than the rest of the state. I think if someone was passing out condoms maybe the students would be taking more health precautions, better care of themselves and their partners.
    With people like M4M, I think they just can’t look beyond what they don’t agree with to see that there’s something deeper.

  23. This is insane…I really hate it when critics take things out of context and twist them into different meanings. I think the book was wonderful and very appropriate for the age group it is meant to target. I’m ashamed to be from the same state as such a closed minded person. Don’t let it get you down…forget her words and walk away with all of our encouragement. We love you!


  24. Wow, I applaud you for being so calm..I would probably freak out.
    And, in responce to someone elses comment…I agree it would be kinda cool if your book was a “banned book” ’cause those are the best kind…I wrote a paper about banned books and how everyone should read them, and when I went to the ALA website to get some examples of the banned ones, I realized I have basically read almost all of them, and they are all wonderful books. Having a banned book would be an honor, in my opinion.

    While I don’t agree with M4M’s negativity about PROM, I realize that she is a worried parent who is just trying to protect her kids from the “dangers in society”(even though thats pretty much impossible these days, sadly) I believe that if she just let her kids read the book it would probably make them realize Ash’s mistakes and prevent them from repeating those mistakes, if having any effect on them whatsoever.

    So, everybody read PROM and banned books!

  25. Okay. I haven’t read Prom yet. I own the book, but I’m still reeling from my college graduation (finally!!). But, I should get to it very soon. =)

    Here’s the thing. I’ve always been a fast reader, so I can breeze through a book in a couple of hours. So, as you can imagine, I went through a lot of books growing up. Many of these books dealt with things like death, sex, drugs, and the like. I can tell you that–more than anything–these books for me helped me to figure myself out. They did not make me want to go out and have sex or do drugs or harm anyone else. The actions may be specific in these stories, but the feelings are universal and kids pick up on the emotional side of things and fit it to their lives.

    Like with Speak. I’ve never been raped, like Melinda was, but when I read that novel I felt it was the most accurate portrayal of my high school experience. The feelings it evoked in me were feel real and very familiar. I didn’t have to experience what Melinda did to take something from the it.

    What you did with this book was write something real. That’s something teens respond to. If you pretend like sex doesn’t exist, kids are going to stay away. And it’s perfectly natural for kids to challenge authority in their teenage years. Kids want to see their lives reflected in the literature they read. Just ask Hamlet. 😉

    Anyhow. That’s the end of my little rant. =)

  26. let’s hope she bought her copy at full price. ::grins::

    and a shoutout to the upthread commenter who noticed that this winner of a woman said nothing about the teacher who stole the money.

  27. i think

    that’s it’s a bit narrow minded for her to think that all the bad behavior emphazised in the book is it’s most important feature. Maybe she doesn’t trust that perhaps her kids and others aren’t mature or wise enough to learn from the sort of mistakes. When I reflect back on prom I don’t really think about the points she brought up. Instead I think of Ashley as a normal teenage girl because normal has a different standard for each indivisual person. Nobody lives in perfectville USA and shows that. Instead I think of how Ashley learned the way she had been dealing with her problems wasn’t exactly the smartest way to deal with them. In the end Ashley may not have a complete picture of who she is but she’s getting there. I think that’s one of the most important journeys we face in life trying to figure out who you are.

  28. I wouldn’t want middle schoolers reading your books either, personally, but I don’t think that’s who YOU were thinking of when you were writing. And if THIS is the book that’s so “disturbing” for a mom, then she should stay far away from a lot of YA books these days.

  29. I’m a sixteen year old from Indiana. I’m on my school newspaper. It frustrated me so badly how sheltered our principal tries to keep us. I can’t think of the exact lawsuit name from the 70s or 80s, but he has the right to censor us. He takes that seriously. We weren’t allowed to have a girl on her cell phone for our cover because he thought it promoted cell phone use during school hours. I feel that it’s people like him that help contribute to teen pregnancies and such. We all know about sex at our age. Plenty of us have had it. I feel that the sheltering mentality doesn’t help teenagers. Unless things are spelled out for us, we don’t get it sometimes. Pushing things under the carpet only teaches us that sex is shameful and shouldn’t be talked about with adults, which is who it should be talked about with since adults do know more.

    I read Prom and thought nothing like what the mother said. I saw that Ashley wasn’t treating herself or her situation right, she realized it, and she changed and grew and such. I saw the moral of the story.

  30. I loved both Prom & Speak. Your books are very valuable and have lasting resonance, and absolutely agree she missed the point about the “heroine” recognizing that her way of life wasn’t working, but I do support parents’ rights to screen what their children read.
    On the condom issue, I’ve always wondered how teens would respond to this poll. Maybe some of you have a forum for asking…

    If you really really wanted to have sex with someone, then found out that person had AIDS, would you:
    a) decide to go ahead with sex as long as a condom is used
    b) decide abstinence isn’t such a bad idea

    Great blog, btw!!

  31. Or that she not only paid full price, but she had to pay for shipping and handling because she ordered it on-line. And then it was late and damaged!

    Her lack of mentioning the stealing going on makes me wonder what morals and behaviors she really is trying to teach her children. “Stealing is OK so long as you’re not having sex, doing drugs, getting drunk, trying to help your friends and classmates have safer sex and disputing authority.”

  32. I admire your calm, Laurie. I know what this sort of attack feels likes. My first thought is that the validity (and intelligence) of any review is inversly proportional to the number of exclamation points it contains. Other scattered and rambling thoughts:

    1. I think you should be flattered that Mothers4Morals has chosen you for her first and only (so far) review.
    2. I wonder whether it is possible for an inanimate object such as a book to be “morally bankrupt.” I’ll need to give the issue further thought.
    3. Katherin Paterson, in a wonderful essay (how redundant is that?) mentions how someone complained to her thet Gilly Hopkins isn’t a great role model. Some parents seem to think that books exist merely to teach lessons. Actually, that’s why parents exist.
    4. In my next book, the characters steal a car, blow up a building, and nearly sink a ship. But there’s no oral sex. Does that mean M4M will give me a pass?
    5. 99.9999999999% of the people on the planet think you’re cool. The others don’t count.

  33. I feel sorry for any kids M4M may have. There’s enough hassle getting through adolescence without having to deal with a mother who lives by fear as well. Without the guidance of excellent books like yours, some of the Ashleys in the world are going to be in their 30s and 40s and still be trying to figure out why they’re making all the wrong choices and feeling miserable. Kudos to you for your outstanding writing about growth and positive choices.

  34. I was not at all offended by PROM. The book is tame compared to a lot of YA fiction out there, but you know what? It’s all true. It’s common knowledge that most teens have sex, drink, smoke, party, etc. I may not be one of them, but that doesn’t mean I’m 100% against them or against reading about them. That lady may be just a little bit too moral, and not at all realistic.

  35. Hi Laurie –
    Aside from other people taking offense to your work, have you ever gotten to the point in a manuscript where you feel as though you’re going down the wrong road? I am 196 pages into writing my third novel and have this nagging feeling that I’ve missed the boat somehow. I can’t pinpoint it exactly, and the ms is still a first draft, so maybe I should wait it out and see what happens during the revision process….. I don’t know. Have you ever experienced this? And if so, what did you do about it?

  36. I suspect they are afraid of what most parents are afraid of – that their kids will go out and do dangerous, permenant things; i.e. make babies, acquire STDs, develop drug and/or alcohol habits, etc. Or that their kids will make short-term decisions that lead to long-term dissatisfaction or unhappiness. Or that their kids will get hurt.

    Do you have kids?

    I do. And I remember that the world started looking very different to me when my oldest got to be about 6 years old. I respect ‘parent-fear.’

  37. Oh, yeah. Many, many times.

    You might want to brainstorm an outline of sorts to figure out if this turn of events will ultimately be good for the story, or if it is a False Path.

    Or you could write down your concerns about this problem, and then write the first draft through to the end. If things aren’t working by the end of the book, then you’ll know where to start with the revisiion.

    I have thrown out hundreds and hundreds of pages of False Paths. For me, it’s part of the process.

  38. last night i read a an aquaintance with darkness by ann rinaldi. it’s about how after the civil war some doctors would dig up graves because they legally didn’t have access to bodies to do autopsies/medical expiriements on to learn how to cure what we now consider common ailments such as headaches. i’m not sure if this book was banned, but it’s for YA and it deals with racism, controversial medical practicies, defying authority, theft, and the assassination of president lincoln and the trial/execution of those involved. There’s even a section about where one girl asks another if she’s had premarital sex and is “in trouble.”

    it was a great book, but it doesn’t make me want to build a time machine and go dig up bodies or kill the president, nor does it make me want to do that behavior in the present. AND it doesn’t make me want to go get myself “in trouble” with some boy. which according to M4M’s logic books like this should want me to do. As a reader, I think I missed the boat on that one…damn.

  39. Thanks – it’s so good to know other (published!) writers struggle with this too. If you would be so generous as to throw me one more bone….I’m 35, a high school English teacher, the mom of a 2 yr. old girl and a 13 yr. old girl and still feel like a failure b/c I cannot seem to get one $%^&** book published. Help me to hang in there. Tell me anything to keep up with the love of the work instead of the glory of the prize.

  40. Thanks so much.
    Please tell me how you get through the rejection part of things. I’ve been writing for so long (12 yrs.), finished 3 novels, got 2 agents (one is currently shopping my most recent YA around, and still nothing. It’s bone numbingly discouraging. Please give me some advice as to how to keep my eyes focused on the work and not the prize.

  41. I think that Ash’s way of living is different, and that it’s good that she changes. But I agree that people who read that book wouldn’t WANT to live her life – she, herself, is unhappy with it. People who do live that way and in that situation might want to change because of it, because they see that they CAN change, as Ashley does. It doesn’t promote that, I think – just makes people realize what they should/shouldn’t do.

    But no one wants their kids in danger, and I think she and you realize that, and both of you have different ways of wanting to change it- you would like to show good and bad ways of living life, and encourage the good ways, and she thinks differently. You just have the same principles, but varied slightly.

  42. I dont have anything new to say but i just wanna let you know that i agree with you
    O, wait… i am disappointed that M4M tried to judge a book by its cover – The cover photo would have one believe…

  43. Re: LJ lurker finally speaks…

    This is so weird – I googled Hillary a few weeks ago to try and figure out what she is doing!!!!

    PLEASE pass on my very best to her – she is such a fantastic person and writer. You are lucky to have her as an instructor! I would love it if she wanted to get in touch with me again.

  44. This is a wonderful question – thank you for sharing it!

    And yes, props to M4M for at least knowing what her kids are reading and caring. We could use more of that.

  45. Is the writing still fun for you? If not, it’s OK to take a break. Give yourself a month off and explore some other creative pursuits. If it’s not fun to write, then don’t bother. It is too frustrating to do it unless you can enjoy the process.

  46. Let’s keep the world happy for all the mad mommies

    This kind of stuff makes me mad. Some people are just so…. Ugh.

    I’m always reading letters in Seventeen from angyr parents about how a magazine shouldn’t be educating kids about sex, but what they don’t realize is some parents don’t do that. They think that mentioning sex will make teens think about it more and want to go do it. Wrong. Teens are gonan think about sex no matter what, and if they wanna do it badly enough, they’ll probably find a way, so wouldn’t it be better if they knew the dangers of it and how to prevent them? I’ve always felt super-comfortable talking to my mom about sex, and look at me…I haven’t done it, and I’m not going to any time soon. But I know a lot fo my friends aren’t as comfortable with discussing those issues with their parents, so I’m glad magazines like Seventeen and CosmoGirl and writers like you have the courage and knowledge to discuss these kinds of things. Usually, that’s the only way they learn about it because heaven forbid school’s teach anything but abstinence!

  47. You said: “You know what makes me sad? She and I probably agree on most things….Where we differ (apparently) is how to deal with kids who aren’t in that position.”

    Yes, yes, and yes again. It makes me incredibly sad. I got similar feedback from someone based solely on my VOYA article about the importance of sex in YA lit. That person went on to say that I was horribly irresponsible for suggesting that we illuminate these issues for teens, and that he would not be buying my book based on the article as well as my book title; which, in his opinion, could only serve to teach teens how to make horrifying choices. So yes, I do think the knee-jerk response is fear of copycat behavior.

    Sadly, what he failed to understand–as you said–is that the characters CHANGE, become more self-aware, and make healthier choices for themselves in the process. Self awareness, growth, figuring yourself out–isn’t this what life, and not just books, is all about? And naive as it may be, I actually think a conversation over coffee could change some of these people’s opinions. E. Lockhart and I had this satisfaction during a bookseller lunch. It was a highlight of our trip! Except…we’re talking WAY too many cups of coffee to make any major impact!

  48. The shock of reality might sting a little

    As a teenager, I find that review to be funny. Parents may not want their kids to be doing the things that the people in PROM did, but it’s common these days. I’ll admit that the first thing I thought while reading PROM was, “Great, another book about a sarcastic, rebellious teen with a gorgeous boyfriend,” but at the same time, it’s realistic. I’m a shy person; the things that happened in that book, I do not take part in, however, plenty of my friends and people in my school do. Parents can’t hide from reality because they don’t want their son or daughter to be that person. Go to any high school and you’ll find plenty of students who are sexually active. Go to one of their parties, there’s a good chance there will be alcohol there. As far as undermining authority goes, like I said, I’m a shy person, and even I can get loud when I’m pushed passed my marker. All that woman did was bash a well-written, realistic book…I wonder what she thinks of “The Catcher in the Rye”?

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