This fall I’ll be taking Amy Pattee’s course on Young Adult (YA) Literature. I’ve been working my way through the reading list already: Forever by Judy Blume (I somehow missed this when I was younger, though I did read Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret), Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, Stitches by David Small (actually I read this in galley form before it was published – they were giving it away at BEA a couple years ago), and many others.
One of Amy’s articles was quoted in a Salon.com piece back in July, “The case for raunchy teen lit.” Generally speaking, in the U.S., when parents or other adults get upset about or offended by a book and want to censor it, it is often because they (the books, not the adults) are “sexually explicit.” (Offensive language is next, followed by violence. See statistics on challenges on the ALA site.) In Europe, on the other hand, violent content is much more likely to raise opposition than is sexual content; one could extrapolate from this and say that Europeans are more comfortable with sex, and Americans are more accepting of violence.
Either way, the Salon article makes a good point; it’s much safer to explore these topics through literature than in person.