If a book is controversial, do you read it? And if so, do you come at the book KNOWING what is controversial about it? Or do you read it to form your own opinion?
I do not read reviews before I read the book, even if there is controversy. I want to form my own judgments. So, I was going to write a review for Carve the Mark, but there are far more important things to discuss than the book itself. The books was lackluster in terms of character and probably plot too if I took a care to dig into it. Out of 468 pages… nothing was memorable. Roth’s world-building is good, giving a sense of place, but overall I never felt attached. I never felt. If you know one thing about me, you know how I feel about Tris in Divergent- that is a POWERFUL character arc, but there was none of that here.
One quick comment and then we’ll move on what what I want to talk about. POV: is there a trend I missed where you move from 1st person to 3rd person? I’m not so sure how I feel about that.
Okay, now to the discussion at hand. Diversity in YA. As a writer, I am even more interested in this topic. So here’s what I’m seeing; some (white) YA writers try to write diverse cast and do so in a way that is poorly reflected, thus creating criticism, AKA Carve the Mark, while other (white) YA writers stick to creating a mostly white cast and get criticized for NOT being diverse (Maas). What I am asking is, how do we find a common ground, one where instead of violently reacting and causing the problem to become an unbreachable topic, how can we go about amending this issue?
Specifically if I have any diverse readers, I’m looking for how do you want to be represented? Because I honestly want to be inclusive as a writer, but I want to be respectful of each individual. What would you do in this situation? How would you address such a topic?
It is my belief that because we, as a community, have created such a taboo around this subject no one is able to openly discuss it. Maybe if both sides stopped yelling and calling things out and had a conversation with each other about why they view it that way and try to find a way to fix it—maybe then it would be less of a problem.
But no— the blame must go somewhere, and both sides are guilty.
We, as a community— as a society, are all for POINTING OUT THE PROBLEM but NEVER about finding a way to SOLVE the problem.
What do you say to that? Can it be done?
Shouting solves NOTHING—having a conversation DOES.
We need to address Diversity:
- what is diversity?
- who is a spokesperson for diversity?
- who can represent diversity?
- have an OPEN and NONVIOLENT conversation about it.
- who can write diverse characters?
We give things a name to give them life, what if we stopped? What if we didn’t give in? I am not a nerd. I am not a redhead. I am not a woman?
I am a person, a soul—
Why do we provide stereotypes with a name? Why do we give voice to disease? Why do we agree to it? But more importantly—how do we stop it or untrain ourselves to voice harmful things.
Now, it’s on you. How can we start a conversation? How can we as a society address issues as volatile and harmful as this, in a way that is productive? Tearing an author down doesn’t stop the problem, it doesn’t further any conversation towards solving the problem. Angry Twitter rants don’t fix or resolve this topic either. You CANNOT change what has been done, but you have the chance to change the future. So take it in your hands and make something happen. I am a writer; you CAN have a conversation with me that WILL impact the future.
I know this has been a long post, but it’s burrowed under my skin that as a writer I HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY. I have a voice that can impact others, hopefully for the better. So let’s make a team. Let’s have a conversation. Let’s do something about diverse representation.