This snippet of (typically excellent critic) Ron Charles’ review of Tony Earley’s The Blue Star, a follow-up to Jim the Boy, triggered my spit-take reflex: At the time, I remember consulting with several reviewers around the country about how to categorize Jim the Boy. The problem concerned us because we cared so much. Was it a YA book? The juvenile jacket cover — retained, unfortunately, for this sequel — seemed aimed at middle-schoolers, but we worried about scaring off adult readers with that label, and we suspected it was too slow for teens anyhow (no rape, school shooting or bone cancer — the unholy trinity of YA lit). Wow, what an outdated view of realistic YA based seemingly on the idea of the "problem novel." Hey, reviewers, why not just review the book at hand instead of offering aside commentary on a genre you aren’t overly familiar with? And if you do offer up said views, why not couch them in less condescending terms? Just a thought.
Weep not for the LBC. (It’s been gone for a few months now, and no one even really noticed. A worthy effort dead of several causes, mostly lack of participation. The next generation efforts are where it’s at now.)