Thursday, March 3, 2016

Is It OK To Love A Problematic Book?

Shannon and I used the same Canva template today, HAHA

Today, I'm going to be discussing a topic that has been on my mind for quite some time now. And since it is somewhat controversial, or at least I think it is (maybe it is not?), it will be featured as a Fine Line post!

The Fine Line post is a feature I share with Holly @ The Fox's Hideaway, Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight, and Amber @ YA Indulgences. It touches upon topics that are either controversial or hard to talk about. For that reason, I will try to remain as neutral as possible. These posts are not aimed to cause offense or target anyone. And more importantly, the reason for these posts is to see what YOUR thoughts are on the topic at hand. Because I am interested in discussion.

Also, please don't be afraid to comment or discuss your thoughts. There's no right or wrong answer to anything I've discussed, and of course you do not have to agree with me on anything. The only thing I do ask is that you don't mention any names or the such. And if you do have a problem with anything I've said, feel free to DM me. Though just remember that I am allowed to state my own thoughts.

And with that, here goes nothing.


Very recently, I finished what I thought was a fantastic and hilarious young adult contemporary. I really enjoyed reading it, and it even became a new 2016 favorite. However, it was brought to my attention that there were a couple of problematic issues with it, such as the negative portrayal of a fat character. There was a scene where she ran over to another character and knocked him unconscious, and then another where she sat on said character to stop him from moving.

So here's the thing. I still really loved this book, even with acknowledging the issues in it. So does this make me a hateful person, or an insensitive one?

Or how about if no one pointed it out to me at all? Would you view me as less of a person if I didn't even notice such issues, and you did?

I think there a lot of things we should talk about in regards to this, and I'll list my two views on the situation.

The first, is that unhealthy messages are not the best, and I'm sure most can agree with me on this. From completely inaccurate representations of POC and mental illness, to abusive relationships being romanticized along with mental illness, to negative views of body image, etc., the list is long. We can argue that whenever one of these issues occurs in a book, it sends out the message to teenagers and adults alike that all of these are okay. And in this society, that's not something we want to express.

Plus, if we do not discuss how problematic these books are, more of them will be published. 

But, on the flip side, what if you really liked a book that had a lot of these issues, take for example, Fifty Shades of Grey. I think everyone can agree that it wasn't the greatest representation of a relationship, right? From what I've heard, at least. Yet, so many people loved the series.

The same can be said for the Twilight series. Many have said that it features an emotionally abusive relationship (I actually would not really know because I read the first book maybe 7 years ago? So I forget)*, yet again, there are tons of fans.

But there are so many readers out there, in the book blogging community from what I have seen, that got into YA because of Twilight! So technically, it was a good thing. When I read it 6 or 7 years ago, I remember that I didn't mind the book, and in fact I think I quite enjoyed it. Is it because I was unaware of what I was reading? For example, I know both Mosquitoland and The Love That Split The World were talked about being offensive to Native Americans. Yet I loved both books. Maybe it is hard to see things as problematic when you don't fall into that category.

In conclusion, I personally do not think I would force someone to hate a book because of its problematic issues. However, I would try to bring the issues to their attention (but only in real life to my friends, or my very close online friends). I'm not exactly sure I have the guts (or I guess the time?) to engage with someone online. Tweeting it though, or mentioning it in a review, would be something I would do.

And as to liking a book that has these issues, I would also say that is fine. It's your feelings, your thoughts, your opinions, and no one should be mad at you for it.

Wow, I cannot believe I got all of that out. Anyways...

What are your opinions on this? Do you have any books that you love but have problematic issues?