I have no idea what the Tournament of Books is, or isn't, but I saw E. Lockhart's posts about her The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks being a part of it and thought "cool."
Monica points out the post where Frankie lost, and it's always interesting when someone not familiar with a genre does a "I don't usually read that, and I agree with things other people who don't read it say, but I just want a good book" take, giving credit to what the don't read, etc.
It may be shooting fish in the barrel to then search the "why Frankie lost" for bits I'd find annoying. Heck, you all know I was on the Printz Committee that selected Frankie for a Printz Honor.
And, indeed, I found different points amusing (such as how many adults, upon reading books for teens, get bothered about the portrayal of adults or the lack of adults in books).
Then I read this:
Because nothing in Frankie’s world has any large-scale consequence (for a few pages it appears as though a character may be thrown out of school, but he is not), every character in the book remains almost outrageously secure. Nothing truly fundamental gets shaken up here. In a winter of global violence, child slavery, layoffs, and financial jitters, maybe a forget-the-outside-world-for-a-few-hours book about a smart young woman is the best thing for our young readers.
And all I could think is man, I wish I was BFF with Jennifer Weiner to discuss that! For those who know her "only" as an author, set aside time today to read her blog, and essays like this. In a nutshell, she takes on the biases that exist against women writers, especially those who don't write "large-scale" novels. I read this and thought, so Frankie is doubly screwed: first by being a YA book, second by being a "chick lit" book. (Seriously, read some Jen Weiner, because she does an excellent job about the biases that define what is "real" literature and I cannot even come close.)
Next I read the commentary about the Frankie loses decision. Which did have some nice things to say about the book. And some odd things.
Read the full thing; my favorite bit is this: "I have no particular animus towards young adult literature, but neither do I find myself turning to it often. If many YA books are as good as this one, I’ll be reading much more of it. (I may try my hand at writing it too because it seems like a lot of fun and an interesting challenge.)
Discuss amongst yourselves the compliment by slamming something, combined with the "it's so easy, I'm going to do it for fun!" YA Authors everywhere are probably tearing out their hair and rolling on the ground laughing.
Edited to add: Please click through to read the discussion in the comments! John, whose comment inspired my snarky title, contributes. Thank you, John! He says, "I didn't mean to imply that writing a good YA book is any easier than writing any other kind of book. What I meant is that I enjoyed reading it so much that I'll likely read more, and being a writer as well, I felt inspired to take up the challenge of writing a book as good as this one. It's the same feeling I felt the first time I read Richard Ford's The Sportswriter a very different book for sure, but that feeling demonstrated to me that good books that affect us are good books that affect us, regardless of genre. As for the "fun" part, I think writing should be fun for the writer and part of the fun for me is the challenge of trying to do something as good as the best, even if that effort virtually always falls short."
Also, please click thru to read the original decision (by one person) and comments on the decision (by two others) in their entiretly. They are seperate people, if I wasn't clear enough in that before!
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
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