About Me

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Cher-y-lynne {sher-uhl-lin} –noun 1. One who formerly sold and recommended children’s books at a bookstore; a specialist in young adult, middle grade, and picture books. 2. A para-educator at a middle school. 3. A struggling young adult writer. 4. A lover of chocolate and popcorn. Archaic: An Audiology and Speech Language Pathology major at Brigham Young University. Questions? Suggestions? Books you'd like me to review? E-mail me at cherylynne1 (at) gmail (dot) com.
This is a blog for my ranting, raving, and occasionally brilliant opinions. You have been warned. Enter at your own risk.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why Edgy Books BELONG in Young Adult Fiction

In celebration of Banned Book Week, I thought I'd talk about why teens should (not just "should be allowed to" but "should") read edgy books.

Let's face it, the teenage years are difficult. You feel like an adult, but adults treat you like a child. You're supposed to make decisions that will affect the rest of your life before you've even figured out what kind of person you're going to be. Peer pressure is a constant in your life, and everything that you either give into or walk away from determines your reputation, and your reputation is everything. Add to this the fact that your hormones are completely psychotic and over-the-top, and...well, let's just say that you couldn't pay me enough to relive those years.

Now, I can see why parents don't want their children reading certain books. They're trying to protect them, keep them from learning about particular evils in the world, keept them as pure as possible for as long as possible.

I hate to break it to you, though, but teens have already been exposed. Unless your child never leaves the house, never speaks to peers, never watches TV or listens to music, they've been exposed. I was hearing explicit sex jokes in the third grade. Being fairly innocent, I didn't know what they were, and just laughed along with everyone else in order to fit in...I didn't actually understand those jokes until years later.

"Well, I can't stop that kind of exposure, but books are something I can control, so I should control it." I disagree. The difference between books and movies or lewd jokes is that books generally work themselves out. They take these issues and work through them. Edgy YA that is done well is a constructive way of working through these kinds of problems. Even if the character makes the wrong choices, we are able to watch it, from a safe distance, and point out exactly what they did wrong.

Now consider how much more likely a teen is to make the right decision when they've essentially "lived through" the wrong decision.

No matter how much we would like them to, teenagers are VERY unlikely to come to adults to figure out their problems. They want nothing to do with adults. How limited will they be if they only have the advice from their peers? I admit, edgy YA books are a hidden way of getting teens to take advice from adults. And as long as the moral isn't heavy-handed or didactic, TEENS WILL LISTEN.

I really think we need to change our views on edgy young adult fiction. It's not damaging our teens. It's giving them an opportunity to work through bad decisions and difficult times without negatively affecting their lives.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Other Views: Love Triangles in YA


"After all, why have one boy when you can have two?"


Fun list of the top ten YA love triangles of all time.


A student comes one day with a "Team Jacob" water bottle and the next day with a "Team Edward" shirt...


The #1 reason women love triangles in romance. I think that says it all.


"We want the protagonist to choose the right guy...for her. Sometimes we get confused and like the right guy...for us."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

This review is based on an uncorrected advance galley, and the author may make changes before the book goes to press.

Cremer, Andrea. Nightshade. New York: Penguin Group, 2010.

I sighed. "The Keepers have been on you too?"
Ren pulled his gaze from mine. "Efron expressed some concerns about my...habits. Worried that you'd be unhappy or concerned about fidelity." He chewed on the last word like a piece of gristle.
I doubled over laughing. For a minute he looked chagrined.
"Serves you right, Romeo." I aimed my fingers at his chest, miming a cocked pistol. "If you weren't Emile's son, your pelt would already be nailed over a fireplace belonging to the father of some brokenhearted girl."
Ren flashed a wicked smile. "You're not wrong." He put his hand against the locked just above my shoulder. "Efron has visted our house once a week for the last month." His grin didn't fade, but his eyes looked troubled.
Fear curled my fingers around his shirt, pulling him closer. "Every week?" I whispered.
He nodded, passing a hand through his espresso dark hair. "Don't be surprised if he's packing a shotgun at the union."
I smiled, but my breath caught in my throat as he leaned down. His lips brushed against my ear. I pulled away. The Keepers took this purity thing seriously, even if he didn't.
"I think they're worried the next generation might not fall into line. But I'd never leave you at the altar, Lily."

Calla (nicknamed Lily) has never questioned her destiny. She's an alpha, a Guardian, a werewolf, destined to form a new pack with Ren as soon as they both come of age. And with Ren promising to do away with his playboy ways and the two packs willing to tolerate one another, everything is falling perfectly into place.

Until she saves a boy that should have died. And suddenly, everything she thought she knew about the "myth" of love comes crashing down around her.

Everyone knows I don't like werewolves, but I liked this. (I keep saying that, don't I? Maybe I should give in. This is the third werewolf novel I've liked.) Great love triangle. I'm totally Team Ren, by the way...not sure if this is one of those series where we need to pick sides, but just in case. I love a playboy that's willing to dedicate himself to me and only me.

One of my main concerns was that not enough would happen, that it would just be 450-ish pages of sexual tension. But that's not true. There's action, there are twists I didn't see coming (the cave! The cave!) and there's plenty of "I might be a girl, but I can handle anything" attitude from Calla.

Overall, phenomenal debut novel, and I will be very surprised if this doesn't hit the New York Times bestseller list when it comes out in October.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Love to Hate Them: Love Triangles in Young Adult Literature

I'm Team Peeta, Team Damon, and Team Zane...and I will stand by those choices until death do us part, and in some cases, even past that (seeing as technically, Damon's already dead.)
The power of love triangles is astonishing. It turns sister against sister, mother against daughter, friend against friend. I myself have created an eternal family feud that will persist through the generations with a Team Gale-er. And there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to my choices...sometimes it's the bad boy, sometimes it's the nice guy, and sometimes it's just the underdog. But I always manage to make a choice--then change my mind about five times--then make another choice by the time the book ends and I find out what really happened.

I love to hate love triangles. I really do. Because it's so heartbreaking when she finally has to choose, and it tells you so much about her character. And I've grown to love or hate the boys along with her. Do you know why I loved "The Notebook?" (The movie, not the book.) Because they made both of those boys so compatible with her. It was her choice, it was her growth, and it was choosing the road less traveled by.

That, to me, is the best way to do a love triangle. Make both of the choices appealing in different ways. And don't, for the love of all that is sacred in romance, just kill off one of the boys. That doesn't help us (or your character) at all. It's just a cop-out. Making her choose is the most important thing you can do for her, because it lets us see what honestly matters to her. Each boy should represent a different ideal. Will she choose passion over comfort? Love over status? Desire over duty?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go build up some of my defenses around the fortress...the Team Stefan-ers seem to have breached security. I might need some back-up here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why Utah Loves Young Adult Fiction

I mentioned in my last post that our store was the top-selling store in the top-selling district for Mockingjay, and it started me thinking...why does Utah love YA?

There are a couple easy answers, so let's start with those:

First of all, there are a lot of kids in Utah. Let's face it, Utah families just tend to be bigger than in other states. That means there are more teenagers in Utah than in other areas.

Another easy answer is the strong religious influence in this area, which means that people are often looking for "clean" literature. Now, just because something's in teen, does that mean it's "clean"? No. But most people don't know that. And so they think they can read anything YA without fear of too much swearing or sex. These people I kindly steer away from anything I would describe as "edgy...."

But I think Utah County's obsession goes deeper. As much as I see the two groups I already mentioned, there are two even bigger groups: housewives and college students.

Here's my theory: Young adult fiction moves faster than adult fiction. It doesn't waste a single word. Even literary young adult fiction has to be interesting, while literary adult fiction, unfortunately, often just has to sound pretty.

College students are busy and in general, don't have time for fiction. So if something is going to drag them from their studies, it had better generate constant suspense and never slow down enough to let them think, "I should really be studying right now..." Another thing, it should be smart, so they don't feel like it's just brain candy. With the example of Hunger Games, it can both keep them frantically flipping pages, as well as provide them with sociological aspects that they can correlate with all that, you know, "smart stuff" they teach you in college.

Now the other group is housewives. Let me tell you, housewives are the busiest, most harried people I see in the store. Business professionals? Naw, they've got their whole lunch hour. But mothers are juggling a crying baby, a toddler who just learned how to run and climb bookshelves, and a whining middle grader who doesn't understand why he has to do a book report on a biography instead of a fantasy.

How these women find time to read is beyond me. But they do. And they make the time for YA lit. I think part of it is the same reasons as the college students...it's intelligent and fast-paced. But I think another part of it is the natural escapism that is in YA. With things like adult sci-fi and fantasy, you have to really be paying attention to figure out the government, the terrain, the maps, and sometimes even the language...not the easiest thing to do while multi-tasking. But YA will take you far away into incredible storylines and fantasies without making you memorize too much. It can make you relive all the good and bad parts of high school without (re)traumatizing you. Hopefully.

Those are my thoughts on it...what do you guys think? Are there other reasons that YA does well in this area?