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Making the Darkness Visible

I was at a friend’s surprise party last night when I myself received a huge surprise: a friend emailed me with the news that my book Rage was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, in an article called “Darkness Too Visible.” At first, I was ecstatic — I mean, hello, the WSJ mentioned my book! I was giddy with validation.

When I read the article, I got my second surprise: the article blasts darker-themed contemporary fiction for teens. Rage was used as an example to illustrate how “tame” issue-oriented books from the 1970s were in comparison — including Go Ask Alice, Sarah T: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic, and I Am the Cheese. Worse, after mentioning that the protagonist in Rage struggles with self-injury and quoting two lines from the book, the article goes on to say that books like Rage are likely to help “normalize” issues such as self-injury — and “may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures. Self-destructive adolescent behaviors are observably infectious and have periods of vogue.”

That sound you hear is my blood pressure rising.

To suggest that Rage effectively glamorizes self-injury is both insulting and stupid. The entire purpose of the book — indeed, of all of the Riders of the Apocalypse books — is to raise awareness of issues such as self-injury and eating disorders and bullying.

Not everyone wants to raise awareness of such things, though. The article argues: “If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader – -or one who seeks out depravity — will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.”

Heads up: Life isn’t always beautiful and joyous. That’s not the real world; it never was. We just know more today about the issues that have been around for a long time — and we’ve come to a point where we’re not afraid to talk about these issues.

But then, not everyone wants to talk about them. The article laments, “Alas, literary culture is not sympathetic to adults who object either to the words or storylines in young-adult books” and goes on to suggest that “the book industry’s ever-more-appalling offerings for adolescent readers spring from a desperate desire to keep books relevant for the young.”

You want relevant? Let’s look at the numbers.

According to the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injurious Behavior in Adolescents and Young Adults, “12% to 24% of young people have self-injured” and “about 6%-8% of adolescents and young adults report current, chronic self-injury.” According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, “about 1 in 10 young people will self-harm at one point.”

One in 10. So in a classroom of 30 teens, 3 of them either are or will self-injure.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 10 million females and 1 million males suffer from anorexia or bulimia, and another 15 million suffer from binge eating disorder.

I was one of those 10 million females.

CyberMentors indicates that “as many as 70% of all young people have experienced some form of bullying” and “1 million kids are bullied every week.”

Let me repeat that: One million kids, every week, are bullied. This is not okay.

These numbers show that issue novels such as Cheryl Rainfield’s Scars and Lauren Myracle’s Shine — two books also mentioned in the article — are not simply “relevant for the young.” They’re urgent for the young, and for their parents. Ignoring issues such as self-injury or eating disorders or bullying doesn’t make them go away. Covering our ears and shutting our eyes and going “LA LA LA” as loud as we can doesn’t make these problems magically disappear. The only things that go away if you ignore them are your teeth.

Maybe the notion of discussing these issues makes some people uncomfortable. That’s understandable; these are not comfortable topics. But that’s not a good reason to remain quiet. To those who insist that they’re protecting children and teens by not talking about these issues — or by banning books that discuss these issues — don’t you realize that the best way to protect children is to educate them about these issues?

The article concludes with the following: “The book business exists to sell books; parents exist to rear children, and oughtn’t be daunted by cries of censorship. No family is obliged to acquiesce when publishers use the vehicle of fundamental free-expression principles to try to bulldoze coarseness or misery into their children’s lives.”

That’s right: parents are there to raise their children. And that means teaching our kids about the world, the real world, not just some idealized fantasy where everything is joyous and beautiful. With numbers like “1 in 10” and “10 million females/1 million males” and “1 million kids,” it’s crucial that kids and teens — and adults — understand that when they’re suffering with conditions or disorders that might otherwise lead them down a path of no return, they’re not alone.

At the very top of the article, there’s a blurb that sums up the article’s tone: “Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?”

Why? Easy. Ignoring ugly truths doesn’t make those truths go away. Silence is never the answer. Granted, there may be those who will always advocate censorship rather than frank discussion. But the more that people insist on limiting the books we read, the more those books need to be read.

Learn about the world. Read a book.

To everyone on Twitter who responded to the article with #YAsaves: Thank you. You all rock out loud.

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97 Responses to “Making the Darkness Visible”

  1. Pardon me while I get an icepack for my head. This head-desk moment was a doozie.

    Do parents not remember what it was like? Or do you need to live a sheltered life to write for the WSJ?

    I remember those times. I remember learning about the things parents wanted to hide well before they decided they should hide them. Swearing, sexuality, racism, bullying, gender, ‘lookism’. I didn’t learn those things from books. I learned them from my peers who were just as messed up as I was.

    I wish more of the reading material back then had covered the real stuff we all went through. At least we’d have a few more examples on how to survive with whatever we were faced with.

    At least for me, paranormal YA has something to offer that other teen literature often lacks. It’s often about kids who are different (be they vampire, witch, werewolf, etc.). Its message? “It’s ok to be different. Differences can give you strength.”

    A dangerous idea indeed, but it’s not the muggles who create the art, literature, music, and even the technology that makes this world a livable place.

    I wish I’d had more of that when I was growing up. I could have skipped years of insecurity.

  2. Annette says:

    Brava. Beautifully said.

  3. Anja says:

    I totally agree. The true world isn’t like the fairytales. I don’t think one should lie to she children and make them believe things that aren’t true. Only by knowing what is “out there” can they prepare themselves!

  4. Syl says:

    I have to admit, I have yet to read your books (Not for lack of trying, just for lack of funds). I saw that Richelle Mead made a post about the WSJ article and in turn your response so I came over here to check it out and WOW. Beautifully said! YA books SHOULD address these issues because no one else will. They bring up those awkward moments and dark fears that teens sometimes can’t turn to others about. I’m no longer a teen and I still read YA books because those issues; eating disorders, bullying, self-harm, etc DON’T go away after you turn 18.

    So to hell with WSJ. Stay amazing Miss Kessler

  5. Sarah says:

    Teens deal with these issues on a daily basis. Whether personally or through friends. Writing about it doesn’t change that fact. If anything, it addresses the fact and lets those reading the book know that millions of others deal with the same issues. A thirteen year old can be raped as easily as a thirty year old. A fifteen year old can have thoughts of suicide just as a fifty year old. Mentioning it in your book isn’t giving them suggestions. Teens feel that way and deal with these issues everyday whether or not they read about it, see it on T.V. or hear about.

    I’m just saying…

  6. Michelle Wright says:

    Miss Kessler, I love your books…I run a literacy program for inner-city children and you kindly sent us your first book. They LOVE IT!!! They understand the characters and can identify with the story on so many levels….I was so angry when reading this article I posted this on my Facebook page….

    Being the YA Lit lover that I am, I of course had to put my two cents in….if I offend…..I’m not sorry….just so you know….

    This article enraged me! The reporter first and foremost must get her facts straight. The Young Reader Genre was not dubbed that until the 1960’s maybe but the “genre” has been around for quite some time…

    ..not to mention this… call any type of literature “appalling” is inexcusable. I work with children everyday that have seen horrors much darker than what is dealt with in these books. These children have seen the darker sides of human existence and most of it has been dealt to them by their parents. The rest is offered by our wonderful society who would rather forget they exist. Children are smarter than most of you give them credit for. They do understand that most of the time they are reading for entertainment or to gain knowledge…these darker teen titles were never put out there as “how to” books…..I mean how stupid is this reporter really! Most of what is dark and viscous in their worlds is what the adults and caretakers of this world have created. Yes teens cut themselves….starve themselves….and sometimes kill themselves….yes they are capable of becoming drug addicts and alcoholics….but they also are sometimes abused….mistreated…..ridiculed…..and thrown away as trash…..and most of the time this is done by the most trusted adults in their lives…there are those dumbfounded people who believe that if we take this type of literature away from the teens and children that they won’t think of these things…..WRONG!…..these horrors will not stop…..who will they identify with then…..some teens are moved to the point of action when reading this type of fiction…..they become confidants to their fellow troubled teens…or they become inspired….inspired to be creative themselves or inspired to be a stronger humans….or GASP! they read this type of fiction for pure escapism…..this article truly shows the ignorance of adults today….bravo to the authors who take the chance and actually “go there”…..and bravo to the excellent minds who create such fantasy that contain vampires and fairies and incredibly fantastic worlds! Bravo to the authors who give us an insight to the troubled minds of teens who are facing their inner demons….and shame on you adults and close minded people who want to just lock the darkness in the closet….shame on you for not facing the realities and darkness of our world today…..and shame on you for wanting to keep our youth of today ignorant and blind and not prepared for the real world….. #YAsaves

  7. Tim Bowie says:

    Is anyone tired of journalists trying to tell us how to think and what to write? Of course the world is not “airy faery”!!! Life is not always fun, and kids have real issues that apparently escape the notice of the WSJ “editors” (I use the term loosely). Perhaps they haven’t read the entire works, or they live in such a rare environment that their children (do they even HAVE children?) are perfect little Stepford Kids . . . This type of journalism is simply wrong!!!!

  8. Tamra says:

    I agree completely. I got so angry, I couldn’t even finish reading the WSJ novel.

    I think that it is absolutely wonderful how YA novels bring these issues to light. I’m a high schooler, and let me tell you that a lot of teens now-a-days need a serious awakening. They seem unable to take anything serious. One of the things that irks me the most is how they are always making jokes about rape, molestation, rascism, etc. It’s just plain rediculous.

    And yeah, some of it is to make the books more relatable, at least when it comes to the cussing. But what teen would read a book with character saying “Holy helicopter!” all the time? If parents don’t want their kids reading stuff like that and would rather have them live a sheltered life, then fine, so be it. I just hope that those parents know that they are only damaging their child’s chances at having a fully realistic and simply real life. I mean yeah, there are certain things that parents should wait a while before telling their kids about it. I’m not saying parents should be telling their five-year-old about sex, but you get my point.

    Besides, children typically learn about these things from their peers anyways. Let me tell you, learning about it from books which actually take the subject seriously, is a lot better than learning about it from the punch line of some joke.

    There’s a lot more I could say on the subject, but in order to keep from this turning into a three-page rant, I’ll leave it there.

    Have a nice day and God bless you all. ^_^

    P.S. I have not read your books, Ms. Kessler and I foudn this from Richelle Mead’s post on facebook. But now I will definitely look into your books. 😉

  9. Well put! It wasn’t just a bad argument (or unsound, I suppose) – but one of the most obviously one-sided “articles” I’ve ever read on the subject.

    I had to respond with my take on the issue as well. I’m more of a literature/classics reader, but I did become a strong supporter for YA and its benefits – “Darkness and Light in Young Adult Books” has my thoughts about the whole thing. 🙂

  10. Carol M. says:

    Jackie, you write a convincing, logical, and beautiful response to a short-sighted and ridiculously out-of-touch article. The YA committee I served on sometimes gets that criticism of the nominees chosen, and one of our first reactions to one another was to wonder if the people making those statements had actually ever met any teenagers. As you said, pretending a problem doesn’t exist doesn’t help get rid of it — only confronting it head-on does.

    Stupid WSJ. The only upside of this — sales of the books mentioned will likely skyrocket. 🙂

  11. SO well said, Jackie. I have three daughters who grew up on books that didn’t shy away from issues, and I can’t tell you the number of wonderful conversations that have occurred because of such readings. Instead of denigrating the books and their topics, parents need to see them as opportunities for open, honest communication…and as teaching moments. In my experience, such conversations lead to stronger and more compassionate young adults.

  12. Brenda Knutson says:

    Sounds to me like the “bullies” are at it again. The few who think they’re better than the rest of us, trying to “beat us into submission” through suppressing and trying to censor what we read.

  13. Connie says:

    I totally agree with your post. Your book really opened my eyes to things like bulimia and self-injury. This isn’t the old days when people were ashamed to speak out about topics like these. In our time, people are encouraged to speak out and that makes all the difference. You can’t just ignore all the cutting, the anorexia, and everything else that goes on today and hope it goes away.

  14. Julie says:

    I have to say I am studying to be a journalist and I hope to god that I will never gt a task that goes against what I believe. I agree with you, things and problems exists and pretending that it doesn’t will make no difference. By bringing out awareness I think it’s the best way possible rather than hiding it. I for one knows what it feels like to be in a situation and not be able to have anythig to relate it to. In those times I was so glad I had my books to help me feel I was not the only one who was going through a tough phase of life.
    You’re argument was well said! It could not have been said better! 🙂

  15. Ashley says:

    Hi. I would like to begin with: “What a slap in the face”. I mean, authors, me being an aspiring one (meaning trying hard to get thoughts out there), work very hard to let their thoughts and ideas be known and to have someone interpert it completely different from what you set it out to be? That’s bound to piss anyone off. I completely understand where you’re coming from, if these people want to insult someone or something…they should go after the media….which is where most teens get their influence from. BOOKS ARE MEANT TO SPREAD TO WORD!!!!! I mean come on, if you’re not getting to plot or the “between-the-line” meaning then get someone who understands to read it. Books are meant to spread ideas and to get views out there and if you can’t express that…than why create books at all. Sure we tap into our imagination and subconscious to create this world where others can live in and relate, but we also bring awareness to serious problems in society such at self-injury and bulying…etc…I’ll be completely honest here, teens don’t want to hear about this happy, happy life style in a book….they don’t want to feel even more let down by a book…..they want to read something that’s real…something that speaks to them and something that they can relate too. I mean this is the real world people…and if you don’t want to hear or read about it…then simply lock yourself up and continue to read your fairytales. Life isn’t all about sunflowers and moonbeams….it’s about pain, suffering, love, joy, laughter, youth, knowledge, breathing without having no pressure from anyone, it’s just about pretty much everything….
    I want to read books that talk about both the hardships of life and the strength of the human spirit which allows us to move on and create our own type of happiness. Books shouldn’t be just about girl meets boy or happily ever after….it should be about our weaknesses and the way people deal with things…I applaud you…because you stand for what you believe in…..I wish you all the best and I hope you continue to write wonderful novels that talk about the real things in life….

  16. Clare says:

    I am almost twenty-five years old, and I still read/enjoy YA books. Why? Because it reminds me what it was like to be teenager and is still like to be a teenager. Plus, it helps me to remember why, when I have kids, it is so important to talk to them even about these hard topics.

  17. Alethea says:

    I couldn’t believe the things the author wrote in the WSJ article–and even less the comments that proceeded to pile up while refuses to let me log in! :s of people agreeing with the article whole-heartedly. I wish I could have lived this fabulous, pristine, happy-go-lucky life that Mrs. Freeman’s child has–by the time I was 13 I’d been abused, bullied, and was suicidal (partially due to some religious confusion–but I’m ok now.)

    Thanks not just for this post, Jackie, but also for Rage, Hunger, and the rest of your series! I’ll keep recommending them.

    I added your post to the linky I”m keeping on YAsaves.


  18. Christina says:

    I think,.. that it is the parents job to start from a early age teaching the children about that stuff so they know what is wrong about it. Life is not a peach tree. It does not always have yummy things and, hiding teens from that is not going to help.
    It will make them want to rebel more. IF they are under 18 and have mental problems it is the family’s job as and parents to be there for them and, have control on what they read. If it is going to be bad for them take it away and explain why. Do not leave them in the dark! I promise this though. Parents these days are so freaking dumb at times. We all have to make mistakes to learn. If One wants to point out the bad. Let it be you insolent fools. Teens need to know about the real world before they are let free. It is the parents job to control and supervise it.

  19. I think that one thing the article really missed the mark about is what fiction is FOR. One of the purposes fiction serves, IMHO, is to present possibilities — including possible solutions. Most of the the YA novels I’ve read and enjoyed were also, ultimately, hopeful. In the HUNGER GAMES triology, for instance, our heroine starts a revolution. Things aren’t perfect at the end, but there is a future that’s _okay_, and that’s hopeful. It gets better. This is what fiction is for.

  20. Debi Murray says:

    Jackie, one of the things I so admire about you is your ability to go straight to the heart of the matter. You are so right about these issues and I applaud your efforts to get the word out. WSJ has this one wrong, and while I respect their right to an opinion, well, just remember this…you just can’t fix stupid.

    Keep writing the books…I’ll always be in your audience!

  21. First of all, the WSJ lost credibility as soon as it was bought by Murdoch. His “news” outlets are infamous for ignoring facts, and for all the talk that WSJ remained independent after the purchase, their quality has gone down the crapper.

    Second, I bet the person writing the article either didn’t read the entire book (probably only red the blurb and/or excerpts in kit), or, if the writer read it, since it doesn’t fit in with the ultra-conservative, goose-step with the right, do-as-you’re told, take-this-prescription-and-life-will-be-beautiful-pill, the writer’s going to slam you.

    Your rebuttal is wonderful and necessary; I can see where the comments are upsetting, but the source is not a reliable one, albeit it a high-selling one.

    Deep breath. You are doing more good with your books than most people can achieve in a lifetime. You’re showing your readers possibilities, options with hope, independent thought.

    A lot of people, especially adults who are narrow-minded, find that threatening.

  22. Mary M. says:

    I believe that the author of the WSJ article should be easy enough to spot (and avoid) by looking for tail feathers towards the sky and head buried in the sand.

  23. Sam M says:

    Incredibly well said! WSJ should just let people decide what books to read for themselves. To review a book is one thing, but to completely and close-mindedly crap all over it is unacceptable. Ms. Kessler, I’m currently reading your book Rage, and I have to say that so far, it’s been one of the best books I’ve read in a long while. It has just the right mix of light and dark, and deals with the theme of self-harm quite beautifully. Thank you so much for your work and your words.

  24. Sarah says:

    I am a 28 years old and I still read YA novels because I find them more relevant than most Adult fiction out there. I also have a 7 year old son who I worry about in school EVERY day because of those statistics on bullying. My father is 53 and is a binge eater and has been for as long as I can remember. A 53 year old!! But these things weren’t “talked” about when his disorder began and now he refuses to acknowledge it. This is an era where things aren’t swept under the rug. And they shouldn’t be. I often think to myself “What should I tell my son if he asks me about (fill in the blank)” And my answer is always, THE TRUTH. My answers may not be graphic, since he is 7 but they are always honest and never.ever. sugar coated. He has the right to know about the world he has been born into and as parents, we shouldn’t be censoring important issues from our children or they will end up being another statistic. “The only things that go away if you ignore them are your teeth.” Well said.

  25. kara-karina says:

    So last week romances were equivalent to women’s pornography, this week YA literature tempts us to self-harm and starve ourselves. *headdesk and facepalm* This is very close to Victorian society. You know certain literature was supposed to indulge female hysteria and give us a case of vapors? One and a half centuries later they still come up with these pitiful and dangerous ideas. Coddling someone is not going to protect them from danger, it will make them totally unprepared and unaware when it hits them. Logic 101.

  26. Alliy says:

    Thats a load of crap. I use to cut and reading this book did make me think back when I did, but it made me sad I did. I wanted to literally reach out and say, I know, I know.. but this way won’t ever be worth it. Recently I found out my 14 year old sister cuts, I plan on buying the book again and giving her a copy and writing her a message of hope in it… This book is honest. Its not giving anyone ideas. I bet a decent amount of readers are cutters themselves and when you read things like, and its as if someone else knows your pain, it makes you feel less alone – SOMEONE, even a character can relate to you. Sometimes, thats all someone needs.

    ps. I think its amazing part of the profits go to TWLOHA, you’re a beautiful writer and person.

  27. Dawn says:

    My 16yo daughter brought me books to read that moved her – authors like Laurie Halse Anderson and Jay Asher. Once I read them, it was really easy to discuss the issues in them – it was a great avenue into conversation. If parents would read the same books and use them to start important conversations, life might get a little better.

  28. Diane says:

    NO NO NO NO YOU are very wrong Mrs.Kessler. Books like these Showed me what NOT to do with my life!!
    And they saved me from my thoughts of suicide!
    I would’nt be alive or where i am today if those books hadnt been there!

  29. Ben says:

    Truthfully, I have never read any of the books mentioned above, or in the article itself, but there are hundreds of books out there that help a ton! Its not promoting anything. Its not an ad saying “Cutting make you loose weight!” With some smiling chick covered in blood. These books are grusome for a reason and thats to prevent tragedies like suicide, dug abuse, rape, self mutilation, and eating disorders. I myself had a huge issue with self harm in the sixth grade, and reading the book “Cut” By Patricia McCormick really helped me pull through. I was brought to this book because I cut, I was not brought to cutting because of this book. Big differences lady at the WSJ, and truthfully, I wish you had some actual experience with this kind of situation so that I could be truely mad at you. For now I pitty you for being so ignorant.

  30. cassidy says:

    this lady from wsj is on crack i swear i read most of the books she mentioned and they were amazing and helped me through some hard times, my parents are going through a divorce and ive had problems with bingeing and purging and cutting i know how it feels now every tim i want to cut i pick up scars every time i want to get involved with somthing like drugs i pick up crank theses books saved me from suiside

  31. Nemesis says:

    Wow. I’m a teenager and I’m surprised there are parents out there that actually believe in this censoring garbage. My parents have practically rammed into my head that “IGNORING A PROBLEM WONT MAKE IT GO AWAY.” I though it was a pretty good (and obvious) lesson.
    the one and only

  32. Maya says:

    I’m not a teen anymore, haven’t been for a few years, but your book RAGE helped me realize my own issues with control. As a teen, other books helped me through chronic depression and anxiety and they still provide solace when I can’t look to anyone else. Books, particularly teen books, are there for the exact reasons you provided. Thank you for writing these, and for spreading the word. Knowing that authors truly care about the teen readers is a relief and a life saver.

    It was the highlight of the year to see you and everyone else at TBF and listen in on your bullying panel with A. S. King and Heather Brewer. Thank you.

  33. Sydney says:

    i am a heather brewer fan, so i heard about this from her blog, and i have to totally agree with her and with you! that article was stupid, and incorrect! there is even a poll on the site,, saying that they are helpful, not harmful, and those that dont think that are most likely those that have no idea what they are talking about!

  34. Skye says:

    I never read your book, but I thought the article was stupid.

  35. Hi, Jackie,

    Making the darkness visible and then allowing our characters to confront it and hopefully overcome it–that’s what good story does.

    I write contemporary and dark YA because as a former high school teacher, I’ve seen and heard a lot of pain that our youth survive. Many of my former students are warriors and I’m not going to ignore the stories they live.

    But what makes our fiction different than reality is that we ask “why” and “what if” and “why not.” We expose courage as much as cruelty; we challenge what is with our what ifs. And so my test of a good, dark YA read is, Is it redemptive? I write more about this in my blog series of reviewing various YA.

    “Seeking Redemption”:

    All this to say, I’m with you on this journey of trying to tell our truth as creatively and honestly as we can. I’ll test any book, my books included, by this challenge where I wonder if any character can inspire me, move me, and have some sort of moral and ethical stance against the darkness. We can make the darkness visible, but do we embrace it? Embracing it troubles me, but getting in the trenches with it and fighting it, another thing all together. I wrote about another book called Rage with this in mind.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on redemption–what you think about this angle I take when reading YA.



  36. Eric says:

    mrs. Kessler im 15 ive never read any of you books or even heard your name and now youre one of my favorite authors. i only saw this because im a heather brewer fan and saw the link on her blog and i have to thank authors like you and her for showing what teenagers today have to deal with my 17 year old cousin recently quit cutting and i think that if more people like you making others aware of whats happening that some of her scars might not be there. so thank you

  37. Lauren says:

    I disagree entirely! You obviously had it easy as a teenager or just don’t remember what it was like being one. Your life seems to suck because no one likes you, your parents don’t get you and your best friends betray you when you need them the most. Teens don’t have the luxury of money to buy therapy and talk out their problems. Even if they do nothing is confidential, they don’t help so you help yourself. Even if the reasons are all wrong. Don’t rate the book badly because you don’t like the the themes.

  38. Catherine says:

    I will not lie: I have never read any of your books. However, the next time I stop at the library or Barnes and Nobles, I will pick up Rage. It is utter nonsense that a book could make a teen cut themselves. I have read “dark” books that tell the truth about what goes on in society and that never made me feel like I should cut myself. In fact, it made me think that my life was a bit better because I did not feel like I had to do that. I’m bullied and I feel these books tell the truth about society.

  39. lance says:

    you r so right this world is fuck up and teen like me need to now how to handl this cruel unforgiving wold we call earth

  40. Elisa says:

    Although Iv’e never read any of your books (I found this link on Heather Brewer’s blog), I agree with you completely. When I found out my older sister used to cut, I went out and read the book Cut by Patricia McCormick to get a better understanding of what she had gone through. About a month later when I myself turned to cutting, I reread the same book and others such as Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and I’m currently reading Impulse by Ellen Hopkins, simply to feel less alone in my struggles. Even though I’m only 13, “dark” books helped inspire my recovery (I’m much better now.).

    Adults need to realize that books like these help teens better understand topics they know little about, and immensely help those who do.

    Thank you for being brave enough to write about such real problems.

    P.S. I plan on picking up Rage first chance I get.

  41. kayla says:

    i couldnt even finish reading that article. . . i think that people who “think” they understand teens and what we need the most should go find someone else to boss around. with out these kinds of books i dont know what i would do. my favorite books are all about vampires!!! i didnt have a lot of friends but the friends i have now i met because we all love these kinds of books. </3

  42. […] Jackie’s response is here – you should go read that. Then you should go read RAGE, if you’re interested in darker YA themes. And never let the censors win. This is your life, Minions. Live it. […]

  43. […] See Jackie Morse Kessler’s response to The Wall Street Journal‘s “Darkness Too Visible” article here. […]

  44. […] as readers and writers of YA weighed in. Today’s teenagers are already facing these issues. Statistics. More. Anecdotally, I know young people who struggle with mood disorders, with whether to come out […]

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