Stay Grumpy, Ponyboy


I knew I shouldn't have done it. I shouldn't have read it, but it was shiny, new, and nestled lovingly in tiny pieces of crumpled paper. I'm my own worst enemy.

Do you ever feel like you’re the last of an ancient civilization? The last of Arthur’s knights standing guard over a powerful relic? The last person tapping out text messages on a flip phone? Actually, reverse that.

Do you ever feel like the only person who doesn’t hasn’t can’t won’t do whatever is the most popular thing there is to do? That’s how I feel when I visit bookstagram or YA book blogs. I feel like the last holdout on:

  • Edgy fairy kind

  • The princess with powers

  • The prince with a dark and deadly secret who must face a dragon only to befriend and tame the beast

  • The peasant/servant/stable boy/house girl/slave who holds the secret magic to save/unite/destroy the imaginary kingdom

  • The three sisters fated to break their unbreakable bond because only one can rule them all

  • Insert other fantasy trope here

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dismissing YA fantasy novels. They’re popular for a reason. I’m saying I’d love to see more attention paid to the other genres. I’m saying that I’ve reached the point where if the book description even mentions dragons or kingdoms or fairies I’m giving it a hard pass. Am I having another tantrum? I’m definitely having another book related tantrum—it seems to be the story of my 2018. I should start from the beginning. Explain things. . .

I subscribe to OwlCrate. It’s a monthly YA fiction box. Every month you’re sent a newly released YA book and other book related sundries and such. If you’re a reader of YA, want to be a reader of YA, a new reader looking for a place to begin, or someone who is looking to bulk up a personal or classroom library then I highly recommend you subscribe. Well, I highly recommend you join the waitlist because it’s quite popular. I’m a fan. Also, they're the reason I own a Newt Scamander keychain. He’s my precious. However, I feel like I’m fighting with OwlCrate. It’s a lot like my fight with J.K. Rowling in that the other party doesn’t know we’re fighting, but we most definitely are. The crux of the fight stems from the box feeling less and less like a YA book box and more and more like a YA fantasy book box. I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m not really feeling the fantasy. I don't know what it is. I know that I'm over it even though I don't think I was ever really committed to my relationship with YA fantasy.

I've felt this way before. I felt this way when YA went all in on vampires, werewolves, and angels. I felt this way when we were all tripping over dystopian or dystopian lite. I guess I'm always going to be Judy Blume and Richard Peck's girl. I'm always going to want to be Harriet. I never wanted be to be Alice. It's funny because what I don't want in my books I'll take in my television and movies. Well, not Star Wars. Never Star Wars. That pop culture beast I do not want it in a house. I do not want it with a mouse. I do not want it here or there. I do not want it anywhere. I know we're fighting about Star Wars, but I'm down for it.

Anyway, help me decide. Do I stay subscribed to OwlCrate and embrace the monthly surprise despite the feeling that they have gone from a box that represents the full spectrum of YA readers to one leaning heavily into fantasy. You want facts and statistics and number? Between December 2016 and February 2018 I received 3 realistic fiction and 2 historical fiction books.

I get it. I really do. It seems like the entire YA community leans into fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian, fairy tales, and magical realism, which I hate most of all, so a good business model involves catering to the masses, listening to the loudest voices, and embracing the obvious. However, it sort of leads on those of us that just want a little mystery, but without the fey. Those of us that just want a little historical fiction without the palace intrigue that emerges because everyone possesses magic. Those of us that just want to take a walk in the real world, not the dark post-apocalyptic world where resources are scarce and detention centers are plentiful, but the actual honest to goodness real world, which is pretty scary without embellishment. I don’t want courts and blood, or thorns and magic, or princes and princesses, or fey and dragons, or castles and kingdoms.

I just want. . . anything other than all the things I just mentioned. I’m easy to please. I think I’m easy to please. Whatever. For now, I'll just stay grumpy.

Since I’ve been a grump, it’s time for a listography.

THINGS I’M EXCITED ABOUT:

  1. The Poet X being released to the world

  2. Love, Simon

  3. The Belles (yes, even after everything I said in this post)

  4. The slice of cake I’m going to have for breakfast

  5. My new fleece lined leggings

  6. My newly developed poetry unit

  7. Seeing Black Panther for the third time

  8. SLJ Day of Dialog

  9. The spring quilt we bought yesterday

  10. My birthday