Monday, 2 January 2012

Girl Crush Monday - Jackie Morse Kessler

Girl crush: Feelings of admiration and adoration which a girl has for another girl, without wanting to shag said girl. a non-sexual attraction, usually based on veneration at some level.
Urban Dictionary

Photo by Michelle Rowen
This blog has been a long time coming. If my Goodreads is correct, nine months and thirty days to be exact. On February third last year I read Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler. I read it in one sitting and it is one of the most touching books I've ever read. Now I've read and thoroughly enjoyed many, many young adult books over the years. A fair number of them have messages, or tackle some of the harder issues in life, but this is one of the ones that has done it the best.

Hunger is about an anorexic young woman called Lisabeth Lewis. After a failed suicide attempt, Death appoints her as Famine. She has a horse, and a set of scales, but how does an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? I'm not going to tell you that, you'll have to read and find out for yourself.

Anyway... Like I said, this book was amazing. It was well written and brought up emotions that I hadn't felt in some time. The thing is, Hunger is only the first in a series of four titles, each dealing with a difficult issues. 

Earlier this year the Wall Street Journal published an article by Meghan Cox Gurdon slamming some of the 'darker' issues explored in young adult fiction. She singled out several titles, but in particular paid a lot of attention to Rage, the second title in Jackie's series. 

Books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures. Self-destructive adolescent behaviors are observably infectious and have periods of vogue. That is not to discount the real suffering that some young people endure; it is an argument for taking care.

Now I admit, I haven't yet read Rage (it's on my to-read list) but based on my experience with Hunger and other similar books I was furious. I firmly believe that these books have a place in society. Indeed, I feel that they are a necessary education tool. I am a believer of education as the best prevention, and hold a great hatred of censorship in reading (that blog, my lovelies, is still to come.)

Neil Gaiman with a copy of Hunger
Jackie was classy thoughout, posting a well researched blog in response. To be honest, just reading that again makes my blood boil. You can also find other great blogs on the subject by Heather Brewer and Maureen Johnson.

I strongly encourage you to head out and purchase Jackie's books. Not only are they fabulous, but a portion of the sales goes towards charities offering help to those who need it, such as the National Eating Disorder Association.

I'll be mentioning books like Jackie's in a blog later this month addressing censorship in reading. It's an issue I feel quite strongly about and it's highly likely I'll be including quotes from my mommy.

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