Why Are Realistic Young Adult Novels So Bleak?: An Analysis of Bleak Realism in A Step From Heaven
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Contemporary realistic young adult novels are, now more than ever, pushing and expanding the boundaries of young adult literature. According to Radical Reads: 101 YA Novels on the Edge, by Joni Richards Bodart, “radical young adult fiction deals with incest, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, sexual and physical abuse, mental and physical illness, dysfunctional families, homosexuality, gangs, homelessness, manipulation, prejudice, suicide, peer pressure, violence, and murder”. These contemporary realistic novels have been called dark, harsh, gritty and difficult to read. Many feel that they have gone beyond the range of reality that is appropriate for young adult readers. Yet many of these books have been highly regarded by critics and have won awards in the field of young adult literature. The authors of these young adult books feel that they are providing a valuable reading experience for their readers. Many young adults have applauded this genre of books as an improvement to the field. The debates and controversies surrounding this topic offer an interesting venue for surveying the field of young adult literature at large.