I recently came across an essay written by Eve Ensler that is powerful and heart wrenching. It’s a must-read for any woman who has suffered or potentially will suffer at the hands of a rapist. And yes, every last woman is at risk no matter your age, religion, race or socio-economic standing. It’s also a must-read for fathers and grandfathers, uncles and brothers and church leaders and politicians. All of whom are also at risk of being assaulted by another human being or of loving someone who has been.
Ms. Ensler’s essay is one of the most articulate, honest and heartfelt answers to the question of what rape does to the human soul.
It is one of the reasons behind YA’s dark nature: reality is terrifying. Also, for some kids, fictional characters–found on their library shelves at school–are the only people they trust to help them navigate the tragedies of their lives. They are the ones who don’t judge.
Dark YA does not perpetuate dark themes. Rather it examines all angles of tough issues and gives kids hope. It declares that they are not alone in their struggles. It proves that someone, somewhere cares. It shows that someone inexplicably gets it. Gets them.
It strengthens and helps heal as it gives voice to the reality–so tragic and terrifying–that many of us will never understand. Knock on wood.
Read Eve Ensler’s letter on rape. Support the ones you care about. And for the love of all that’s human, don’t be so quick to decry dark YA themes that sicken you or make you uncomfortable. Because reality is such that someone already experienced the pain you can’t stand to read, and more will follow.
Hurt does not discriminate. People do.
Dark YA can help break down the walls and heal a nation that suffers by its own hands. So, please help me make a list of novels that aim to do just that.
I’ll start: Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman