Mundie Moms

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Guest Post with Red author Kait Nolan

We're excited to have Kait Nolan, the author of Red, on the blog today. Here's a little bit about her book:

Elodie Rose has a secret. Any day, she’ll become a wolf and succumb to the violence that’s cursed her family for centuries. For seventeen years she’s hidden who and what she is. But now someone knows the truth and is determined to exterminate her family line. Living on borrowed time in the midst of this dangerous game of hide and seek, the last thing Elodie needs to do is fall in love. But Sawyer is determined to protect her, and the brooding, angry boy is more than what he seems. Can they outsmart a madman? And if they survive, will they find a way to beat the curse for good?

Why Disneyfying Classic Fairy Tales Is An Injustice (Or Why YA Isn’t REALLY Too Dark For Teens)

Earlier this summer, in a now infamous article in the Wall Street Journal, a claim was made that the subject matter of most YA was, in fact, too dark for teens. Aside from the fact that the article lumps all YA into a range of 12-18 and neglects the fact that there are subsets for older and younger teens, the take-home message seemed to be that the subject matter was inappropriate for teens. It even went so far as to say that reading such graphic, dark material would give teens ideas (i.e. that reading about suicide might make a non-suicidal kid consider it).


That’s a complete insult to teens everywhere and doesn’t acknowledge that they DO have brains of their own, thoughts of their own, and prefer to have them validated rather than ignored because, according to all those well-meaning adults, their lives are supposed to be simple and happy and moral. They’re still supposed to be children. Newsflash: They’re not.

Clearly those adults haven’t walked the halls of a modern high school any time in the last two decades. Or done something even more radical and talked to a teenager. I notice the article’s author didn’t bother to have any teenagers as sources or quotes.

I posit that this apparent appetite for the dark among teens is a backlash against the Disneyfication of young adult entertainment. Now, this is not intended as an insult in any way to Disney. I loved Disney movies as a kid. Still do. I’m that lone adult that’s watching Tangled in the theaters without a kid in tow. With my husband, who is also a closet sap. But there is a trend, one that’s been in place since I was a child, to present all these fairy tales in a very watered down, not too scary, happily ever after kind of way. Which, hey, kids eat up. I’m living proof. I can’t tell you the huge crush I had on Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid when I was in the fourth grade. But presenting kids with nothing but stories that always turn out in the end, no matter what, is a disservice.


Because that’s not how life works. Life is messy and dark and often doesn’t have a happy ending. And flooding kids with the expectation that it always should sets them up for nothing more than disappointment. Because life’s not fair. Sometimes it just plain sucks.

The original versions of many of these fairy tales we all grew up with are proof of that. Many of these stories are sometimes dark enough to curl your toes. The unsanitized versions were meant to teach a lesson and show the consequences of your actions.

Take the original Hans Christian Andersen version of The Little Mermaid. The little mermaid gives up her voice—the thing that makes her unique and who she is—to get legs to go after the prince. And you know what? He married someone else. Not almost, kinda, but the heroine and her friends rode in and stopped the sham wedding. He totally married somebody else (not the sea witch, I might add). Her sisters went back to the sea witch to make a deal for her to get her voice back. But she’d have to murder the prince and his new bride in exchange. She couldn’t bring herself to do it, so she and her sisters all died and became sea foam.

Creepy? Oh heck yeah. Do I prefer the happily ever after and the wedding and the reunion with Arial’s father? Of course. But there’s real value in the original story because it gives a good life lesson: Girls, it’s so not worth being anything but who you are to try to snag a guy.

Those universal truths and life lessons are the reason these stories have survived through centuries. They have great worth in what they can teach us. And so do the plethora of dark and terrible (and I mean terrible as in dealing with terrible truths, not as in badly written) books that line the shelves in the YA section. These books address real issues that teens face. We don’t live in a Leave It To Beaver world, and any parent that believes blocking their teen’s access to such books means they won’t be exposed to these issues is delusional. It’s real. It’s out there. It’s happening. They’re talking about it with their friends. Don’t you want in on that discussion? Read the book too and talk to your teen, find out her thoughts and answer her questions. Use it as a teaching opportunity. And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll become one of the cool parents.

Kait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss. When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.

You can catch up with her at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Her debut YA paranormal, Red, is currently available from Smashwords, Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Barnes and Noble, the iBookstore, and All Romance EBooks.


  1. Great post. I gained my love of YA fiction from my daughters and you're right. It's great to share what they read. It gives you a perfect conversation starting point. You start out talking about the book you both just read and before you know it, you've jumped into the day to day stuff with little or no effort. Even if your teen isn't experiencing any of the tragedies portrayed in these books, who's to say they may not come away with the empathy that will allow them to either deal with it in the future (heaven forbid) or help someone else. The world has changed. I'm not sure if my love of and sharing of these books has helped me become a "cool mom" - do those two words really belong together? - but it has helped give my daughters and I a common interest. We've always been able to talk about the hard stuff - sometimes I get way too much information - but the alternative is being oblivious and for me that's just not an option. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is such a great post. I just got back from a week at Disney and while I do like Magic Kingdom for pure entertainment, I have to say that my favorite part is EPCOT because it's science based and looks to the future and really tackles things I think of as scary environmental problems. Now, do I think three year olds need to be studying the original Danish version of Ariel's story? Nah, but I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that WP and most people with this "argument" against teen reading being too deep and dark, are not splitting 12 year olds from 18 year olds. I was much more jaded in highschool than even now, simply due to my surroundings and the constant questioning and drama of teen life.

    I think it's so important to maintain a challenging (literary and emotional) commitment to our young readers and refraining from sugar coating is a good place to start.

  3. @creativedeeds I TOTALLY think cool and mom can go together. And being able to discuss books with your kids is a fantastic place to start!

    @Pam I think you really hit it with the idea of challenging young readers. Teens are quick to get bored and the sugar coated, simple stories are the first ones that teens will cry BS on and put down.

  4. There's so much development that happens between even 12 and 15. All teens can't be lumped together in one category. And so much depends on the child's maturity level. I think it's really important for parents and teens to be able to talk openly.

    And it's also appropriate for a parent to request that a child not read a particular book just yet (or watch a particular tv program/movie). Especially when it's not just a knee-jerk reaction but out of consideration for the child's well-being. Obviously, this begins to shift as the child grows older, but I do think it's important to cultivate the trust such that a child, even a teen, is respectful of his/her parents opinion.

    With my children (they're not teens yet...are 6 and 9), we discuss what's appropriate for them to read/watch right now. And usually "why" something's not appropriate. My son's younger friend is allowed to watch any superhero movie, for example, but I don't think the violence in a lot of those is appropriate for my children. They understand that different families have different rules and that there's a good reason why they're not allowed to watch everything that comes along.

  5. Creative Deeds- I love that you talk with your daughter about what you're both reading. I think that goes a long way in both the bond you have together and making sure you as a parent are involved in your child's life. Huge kudos to you for doing that!

    Pam- I totally agree. I understand sugar coating things when they're younger, but as teens they want honesty and I feel as a parent it's important for me to give that to my children. That doesn't mean I need to expose them to everything, but it's important for me to talk to them about things that are happening around them and things they're reading about.

    Kait- THANK YOU for such an awesome guest post!

    Sonia- I agree with everything you said 100%!! Parents need to talk to their teens. They also need to stand up and voice their concerns or say no to having their child read something or see something they feel is inappropriate for them. My kids are almost 7 and 4 and we've had the same discussions you mentioned as well, and they understand that it's okay for us to do things differently than what their friends do. I think kids the grow up with an understanding of why it's okay and not okay to do something, grow up with a stronger sense of self confidence.