Like Joey Tribbiani, we believe that some books belong in the freezer. If you aren’t a Friends fanatic, that’s a reference to the episode where Joey kept The Shining in the freezer because it was too scary. When he and Rachel do a book exchange, we learn that it isn’t just overtly gory fiction that makes you want to freeze away your feelings:
Whether gross, creepy, or just plain sad, these are some moments in YA fiction that had us reaching for the icebox:
The One Where Dobby Dies
I admittedly was very late to the Harry Potter game. Like, I didn’t start reading the series until the seventh book came out. I blame my parents. Anyways, as I was reading the books from the beginning, I would discuss my thoughts and feelings about what was happening to my friend who had read them already. In particular, I remember being so incredibly annoyed and mad at Dobby. Inherently, I disliked him for his affiliation with the Malfoys, but also I couldn’t stand the way he spoke in third person. “Listen to Dobby!” “Bad Dobby!” “Dobby is fed up with this Malfoy bullshit!” As I continued reading, he began to have a soft spot in my heart and soon became one of my favorite characters. So when he was killed by Bellatrix’s knife after essentially saving HP, I was absolutely gutted. He was devoted and loyal to Harry, and passed away in the most heroic way. I had to stop reading because I was so stunned and also the tears were clouding my eyes and prohibiting my ability to read.
Hazel’s ‘Fake’ Eulogy for Augustus
SPEAKING OF BLUBBERING AND TEARS. THIS ENTIRE PASSAGE:
“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”
The Hunger Games in General
Like a lot of other people, I like and appreciate the world Suzanne Collins created, it’s easy to forget just how troubling the premise is. Before the first movie came out, I was explaining to someone (a mother of three) what the books are about. It wasn’t until then, when I was saying it outloud to someone who has kids that I realized just how effed up it must be that we get entertainment out of these books, in particular the first one. As a parent, she must have been picturing what it would be like if her kids were put in that situation, when you have no choice but to watch your kid fight to the death in a televised sport. I know the series is more than this, but, still. How messed up.
Everything I know about diabetes I learned from Ann M. Martin. But the most traumatizing lesson was when Stacy hadn’t yet been diagnosed, and she wet the bed at a sleepover because diabetes makes you pee a lot. This led to her losing her best New York City friend. The diabetes also caused Stacey’s divorced parents to fight all the time and to bring her to some sort of quack doctor. When she tries to play it cool and not tell her BSC friends about the diabetes, they assume she has a shady secret. AND when everyone is tucking into Claudia’s food hoarder snacks, the narrator always explains that they have saltines or something for Stacey. Basically if you get diabetes you will pee everywhere and your life will be ruined, is what I learned. For more BSC thoughts, see our The Baby-Sitters Club: The Musical — Excerpts From The Libretto.
Jonas’s Dad Kills Babies
Ah, The Giver. Probably one of my favorite YA books of all time. Except for that part where Jonas’s usually-chill dad is seen cooing at an adorable little baby then shooting it up with death drugs because it was a twin, which was against the rules. Then Jonas learns that the baby who has been hanging out with his family is also on death row so he escapes into the wilderness with it. Damn.
Remember Lurlene McDaniel? She wrote treacly, vaguely Christian books about teens with terminal illness. She covered all manner of diseases but I knew her best from the Dawn Rochelle books, which were about a 1980s teen who has leukemia. McDaniel probably did a lot to teach the youths that kids living with disease are just like us. But it’s almost like she did a little TOO good a job because as someone who bruises easily and is prone to violent, cascading nosebleeds, I definitely spent my junior high years being like “you know who had these problems? Dawn ‘Leukemia’ Rochelle.” Most traumatic moment: when Dawn’s friend and hospital roomie died and Dawn got her Bible with that one part of Ecclesiastes underlined.
Open-Air Mating In The Alien Zoo
Our high school was notorious for ridiculous eight-book-long summer reading lists, where most of the books were 400-page tomes set on the British moors. But Junior Year, they assigned at least one “hip,” “modern” book: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t remember much, but I do remember that these disgusting slimy aliens abducted the main character and he had to live in a human zoo. They brought a porn star in and the two of them, like …. mated. In front of the disgusting terrible aliens. Who were cheering, maybe? It was horrible.
Coraline discovers Other Mother and Other Father, who are alternate-universe parents who have button eyes. Then Coraline, a human person, is supposed to sew buttons over her own eyes to “match.” And THEN she meets ghost children onto whom the Other Mother had sewn button eyes. Nah.