Problem Novel Problems

Barbara Feinberg wrote an excellent article on the problem novel and what is wrong with it.

There were some good quotes. “I get a heartache in my stomach.” That was a little girl’s response to these novels which end horribly.

40% of the Newberry Medal winners in the last 1o years have been these kinds of books. So don’t plan on using that little golden circle to help you choose a good book for your child.

Children are reading these books where
“The protagonist is alienated and hostile toward adults.
Some relief from unhappiness comes from a relationship with an adult outside the family.
The story is often told in the first person, and is often confessional and self-centered.
The narrative is told from the point of view of an ordinary child, often in the vernacular; vocabulary is limited; tone is often flat, and emotionally detached.
Dialogue predominates.
The settings are urban, usually in New York or California.
Sexuality is openly and frequently discussed.
Parents are absent, either physically or emotionally.”

In addition she gives a discussion of some of the novels of this type that are popular right now.

I recommend the whole article, especially if you have been unable to articulate the problems with these novels.