Forgive me for being out of touch, my computer is possessed by evil demons who delight in pissing me off. If you’ve emailed me recently just hold tight, I’ve found an exorcist (aka friendly computer nerd) who has promised to help me.
But why dwell on the negative when you can dwell on the bizarre. I visited the paperback version of Sex, Murder And A Double Latte at my local Borders the other day. It was right there on the front table sandwiched between a book titled To Serve And Submit, tag line: Some were born to rule, other’s were born for something more… and another book (who’s title I have effectively blocked out) about an Iraqi soldier who goes to war only to come back a vampire. He then becomes a secret US government agent and his first assignment is to figure out why a bunch of high powered and previously well behaved women have suddenly become nymphomaniacs.
I think it’s safe to say that society's attitudes about sexuality have changed.
Yes, there were masters and servants back in the 80’s (just ask Depeche Mode) and there were nymphomaniacs and vampires (although I think these may be the first nymphomaniacs to be investigated by a government employed vampire) but I don’t think either of those books would have been prominently displayed on the front table of a mainstream, family friendly bookstore like Borders. But Borders wasn’t taking a big risk with this, they know that we’re all too jaded to be shocked by anything as common place as nymphos and maidens bound in leather straps. The only shocking part is the suggestion that the US government would employ a former member of the Iraqi army, undead or otherwise.
However if it's become harder to shock or offend an adult it's become nearly impossible to shock or offend a teen. When I was a kid the only racy book being read was Judy Blume’s Forever. Yes, it dealt with sex but it was what I would call “soft lens sex.” That is to say it was pretty and soft instead of in your face and grinding. And despite the fact that all the teens were reading it, the book was actually shelved in the regular fiction section (as opposed to YA). Gossip Girls is shelved in the YA and there's nothing soft-lens about it. There are a lot of people who hate Gossip Girls (mostly parents). They feel that all that talk of oral sex and ripping each other’s clothes off is going to corrupt their youth. They’re wrong, the youth have already been corrupted and they’re not going to read books that treat them as if they know less about the world than they do. The trick is to deal with these issues in a responsible way that entertains and does not condescend. That’s what Tanya Lee Stone has done in A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl.
First and foremost it’s a beautifully written book. Her prose are poetic and captivating (and that’s a hard combination to pull off). Her book brings home some important lessons about sexuality, but not in a just-say-no-to-drugs way. Instead Stone acknowledges the realities of teen sex today and brings the reader to a place where they come to understand the importance of learning from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. She empowers readers without hitting them over the head with preachy and overly simplistic answers to complicated problems. I haven’t been a teen in over ten years and yet I still loved the book. It richly deserved the starred review it got from the Library Journal.
In the interest of full disclosure it is true that Stone is a member of GCC of which I am now a member (see the above banner) but I wouldn’t write these things if I didn’t think they were true. So check out her blog and most importantly, check out her book. If your local bookstore doesn’t have it suggest they carry it (seriously, books that are universally adored by critics should not be ignored by bookstores just because they sport “chick” titles). I guarantee you, it’s a meatier and healthier alternative to a lot of the YA “chick-lit” out there.
Sex, Murder And A Double Latte IN STORES NOW!!!
Preorder Passion,Betrayal And Killer Highlights In Stores May 2006!
For The Love Of A Dog--A fun online read