I'm reading award-winning juvenile and teen fiction, and this stuff is brutal. I'm talking trails of carnage and guts. I can't get through these books without wanting to throw them across the room and hiding under my blankie.
These are just some of the things I can't handle:
- Grandmother tries to stick her grandson into a refrigerator and close the door on him-- while it's plugged in (Joey Pigza Swallows the Key by Jack Gantos)
- Adult gives a newborn baby the lethal injection, graphic detail of convulsions and all (The Giver by Lois Lowry)
- Mother mistakes kerosene for water, and as she tries to make coffee, gets burned to a crisp. Faceless and sore-ridden, she dies days later, as she gives birth to a child (Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse)
The thing is, violence has always been a form of entertainment: public executions in previous centuries, bloody folk tales (such as Bluebeard or Bethgellert), and The Little Mermaid is actually supposed to die.
Am I just being lame? When kids read about needles in babies and flaky, scorched skin, does it really sink in?