March 11th, 2015

girl reading sunshine

Neil Gaiman, Gayle Forman, and hope

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Forman says she she’s been asked why she writes about, and why young people read, dark subjects – the contents of her books include family members dying, a girl dealing with her best friend having committed suicide, depression, and grief. She said that it isn’t about the dark things, not really, but about ordinary people being put in extraordinary circumstances and showing that you can live through them; that ultimately it’s about giving hope.

When asked what the difference is between writing for adults and writing for younger audiences, Neil Gaiman said that when he writes for adults he’s not obliged to offer hope, but when writing younger books he is.

I find this interesting, the idea that the difference between adult literature and young adult literature is hope, not the content of the plot, or swearing, or other criteria that you sometimes see books ‘warning labeled’ for on the back. I’ve been trying to think if I’ve read any YA books without hope and whether I read YA differently to traditionally ‘adult’ books in terms of hopeful expectations. Does anyone else have thinky thoughts on this, in regards to reading and/or writing?