Our book club recently covered the YA book “The Hate You Give.”

in my opinion an excellent book…that my 14-year-old has no business reading, yet it is in her middle school library? I was pretty much alone in my opinion at the book club discussion because “they hear worse in school”? The book has a great female protagonist, a 16-year-old, but also teenage drinking, sexual scenes (although not actual intercourse), drugs, gang violence, drive-by shootings. I was sad to see that this book was classified so broadly. A 13-year-old was in attendance at the book club. Her mother was as well but had not read the book.

I could not agree more that the YA genre is in serious need of clarity. Even if there’s a middle school classification. I have been told by middle school teachers that there aren’t enough good books at the middle school reading level. Perhaps we, as writers, need to take some responsibility for that, putting our foot down that while we ARE desperate to be published, NO our novel should NOT be a YA novel.

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