You don't have to be old and bearded to be sage. In fact, my editor, Andrew Karre, is living proof that you don't have to be either to see things that others miss. In a recent piece for Hunger Mountain, he takes a step back from debates about YA literature--debates among authors, editors, fans, critics, and moralists--to look at how these debates (regardless of their outcome) show something of broader importance about YA lit: it matters.
In my book, wisdom is all about offering a broader perspective, often brought home by relevant comparisons. Which is why I love Andrew's connection between YA's role in the publishing world and Apple's role in the technology field. Brilliant, as you can see here:
Arguing about whether YA is too dark is the literary equivalent of arguing about whether consumers will ever want a cell phone without a physical keyboard. Worrying about whether YA is a genre is the equivalent of agonizing over whether an iPad is a computer or merely a media consumption device (the answer, conveniently, is the same in both cases: It doesn’t matter; it’s whichever you need it to be). The only meaningful outcome of these debates is this: What we’re doing matters.
But then, it hardly comes as a surprise that Andrew's thinking about something bigger and deeper than trends. Andrew's the editor over at Carolrhoda Lab, which published What Can't Wait and will also publish The Knife and the Butterfly in 2012. Carolrhoda Lab is a tiny, newish imprint of Lerner that publishes fewer than 10 books a year, and yet Andrew has a real eye for special that's quickly putting CRL books in the spotlight.
I'm not talking about myself here, but rather the amazing company I'm in. Blythe Woolston's The Freak Observer won an ALA award last year, and her new novel, Catch and Release, just got a starred review from Kirkus, as did Steve Brezenoff's Brooklyn, Burning. Steve's novel also recently appeared on Kirkus's Best of YA list for 2011. Ilsa Bick's latest novel with Carolrhoda Lab, Drowning Instinct, kept me up all night and is plotted so tightly that you'd be hard pressed to find a single scene that doesn't contribute to the weave of the many storylines. (Reviews of Drowning Instinct and Catch and Release to come closer to the release date. Till then: I loved them both!)
So if you want to read something about YA besides another article telling us that it's selling (really well), check out Andrew's Hunger Mountain essay.