Street lit and stuff…

20 Nov

Yikes! It’s the 20th; how’d that happen?!

This weekend-dark, grey November days, spatterings of rain, “red skies in the morning~” (“sailor’s warning”). Exactly as you’d imagine. Time for snow; time for change.

So, Christina’s (excellent) presentation on Street Lit got me thinking…

Two things in particular: the comment by middle-school boys saying that the books gave them a road map of how (not) to; I thought that was really interesting. And the idea that the genre will appeal to readers who don’t necessarily see their lives reflected but  who can live vicariously through the characters or story.

It reminded me of this series of books I read (part of ) when I was about 13. I seem to remember them being pretty formulaic: the first half introduced the main character, usually a girl, who was either:
a) living on the street
b) on the outs with her parents,
c) had a substance abuse problem
There was always some sort of critical moment and then, the book takes a decidedly christian twist and she is “saved”.

I remember only reading until the “saved” part. For some reason, I was never as interested in the girls getting back on “the right path” as reading about how they ended up on “the wrong path”. My friends and I passed these books around; for kids living in small town Ontario, these stories of life in a big city, on the edge, on the street was scary, exciting, so “bad”…so different than our very quiet lives. But also, such a safe way to explore something else. Of course, I can’t speak in any way to the authenticity of these books: it was so long ago and I’m sure there was very little ethnic diversity but, it was over 20 years ago. But that being said, I can totally see why it’s important to ensure you have books which would fall under the “Street Lit” sticker (should they be stickered) even if you live in white, waspy, small town  Ontario. So while I do realize that it’s reflective of real life for some and for that reason very important  for those kids to see themselves in books, it’s also important just by virtue of why we read: it’s an opportunity to try out and try on something else.

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Posted by on November 20, 2011 in YA stuff


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