The Publishers Weekly article “Think Future” Panel Debates What Makes a YA a YA has been getting some attention at listservs and elsewhere. My own first (bitchy) thought when I began reading it was, Sherman Alexie has written one YA book and that qualifies him to sit on a panel discussing YA?
My second thought as I moved toward the end of the article was that he had some interesting things to say. I was particularly taken with what he said about being "reservationized."
"An audience member, agent Rosemary Stimola, observed that a key issue in the debate is, Are these books for young people or are they books about young people? Alexie addressed her question, commenting, “If the former, a more conservative point of view comes in. If they are about young people, it’s more about respecting and not protecting. As an Indian I’m used to being what I call ‘reservationized.’ There can be a sense of the category, instead of elevating us, doing the reverse.”"
I think the analogy he was making was that YA books end up being placed in their little category or "reservation" by the nonYA (meaning adult) gatekeepers who control what is published, reviewed, purchased and on and on as I am always droning on about here. And then the YA books become about what those nonYA gatekeepers think they should be because it was the nonYA gatekeepers who created the category or reservation.
The same could be said of all children's books.