Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Six Books that May Be too Racy for Teens

***Update, September 18, 8:45 PM: The following is intended as a sarcastic response to the article I link as well as the Eleanor & Park controversy and a way to celebrate Banned Books Week. After a few comments told me my intention in compiling this list was not clear, I wanted to add a disclaimer to let everyone know I do not actually mean any of the points I make***

Recently, She Knows, a well-respected womens' blog bathed in bursts of pink, posted an article titled "15 Books that may be too racy for your teen." After scrolling through the list the writer compiled, I was horrified to discover that some of the novels included were on my upcoming reads lineup. Shocked and disgusted, I immediately removed them, as there is absolutely nothing I hate more than a racy book. These types of tales often discuss difficult topics that force readers think and challenge their world views, which makes me squirm with discomfort; I like my stories simple and easy, thank you.

As I read, I also realized that, because this article had saved me from exposure to so many issues that I, as a fifteen-year-old, am not ready to handle, I should return the favor and warn the bookish community about a few more inappropriate YA novels. I too have had unpleasant experiences with some slimy stories, and I hope that by spotlighting a few of them I can help other readers worried about their books' content.

1. Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
Do not let this book's cover deceive you. It is not the cute, innocent romance it pretends to be. Its main character engages in activities such as kissing her crush, which may be a bit too racy for readers under fifteen.

2. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
This book's main character, upon discovering she is an angel, slices her skin to see how quickly her magical powers will heal her. This may inspire some teenagers to experiment with cutting themselves, and because they are not unearthly creatures, they may experience harmful consequences.

3. Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown
This book centers around a girl who sends a nude picture of herself to her boyfriend, which is clearly a topic for more mature teen readers. Never mind the fact that the entire story chronicles her dealing with the negative repercussions, both legal and emotional. The act itself is entirely inappropriate.

4. The Poison Apples by Lily Archer
This book is all about three teenage girls who bond over their "evil" stepmothers. Can you imagine anything more undermining to family love and values? I would like to hear what the author's parents have to say about this.

5. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
I will admit I have not read this book, but the cover indicates that it may be a how-to manual on drug usage. It apparently informs readers about the side effects of something, and the illustration that looks like a pill bottle confirms that this something is drugs. I would not be surprised if Murphy is attempting to profit from her readers' addictions.

6. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
This book may pose as a historical fiction novel, but anyone who reads more than a few pages will know it is nothing of the sort. It is a graphic chronicle of the torture prisoners of war endured during World War II and is far too graphic for most teenagers.

I hope you will take this list as well as the one that inspired it into account when shaping your to-read pile. Have you ever read a racy book, only to wish you had not? Let me know in the comments so I as well as other readers can avoid it.


  1. I've always been okay with 'racy' books and so far, haven't encountered any books that have really made me squeamish. I think it all depends on the person though. I'm thirteen going on fourteen (*my lame attempt at making myself sound older) but I've been reading young adult books for ages. And have never come across any trouble, even with books that may deal with 'mature subject matter'. I think that may be due to my upbringing where my parents were very open with many things - for example, sex - so it didn't feel as if it were a bad thing or something that I would have to shy away from. It is after all a natural process of life and while that may not mean that it is appropriate for some to read, I think really it depends on the person. And for me, I know that I'll be okay with 'racy' books and if I'm not, I also know I will be smart enough to put it down.

    1. Your parents sound so awesome. I wish more parents were like yours, but unfortunately some aren't, which is why we NEED "racy" YA to give teens a safe place to learn about life. (This entire post was a joke, jut to be clear.) You are completely right when you say it depends on the person because everyone has a different maturity level independent of his or her age and will be ready for/need different subject matter. We can't tell people what to read and what not to read because we could be taking away a story that will change his or her life for the better. Generally, the books with the most potential to do that are the ones that get banned, so I wanted to show how ridiculous banners often can be! Thanks for your lovely response! The fantastic thoughts you bring to this issue make you seem even older than your "going on fourteen" comment does. :)

  2. I remember picking up Robin Benway's Audrey, Wait, years ago, and putting it down simply because the mentions of drugs and the innumerable times the "f word" was tossed around. I picked it up again over a year ago, and really enjoyed, it so I think you just need to give a book time. I don't really think there's such thing as a YA book thats "too racy" because every young adult is at a different maturity level and feels comfortable with different things. For example, I was surprised to find Sean Griswold's Head on this list because when I read it a few years ago I never in a million years would consider it racy, but now that you're brought it up, I can see how younger readers may turn away from that sort of content.

    This being said, I would never tell a young adult not to read a book because I think a valuable lesson can be learned in every book, even if it's NOT to do something. I would maybe warn them, but I would never take it out of there hands. Like I said, I think it should be up to the teen to decide if the book is right for them or not.

    Great post, Emily! Not trying to contradict you in anyway in this comment, and I hope it doesn't come off that way! :)


    1. *hides under covers*

      *peeks out to respond to comment*

      I completely agree with you. This post was supposed to be a joke, a satirical response to the other post I mentioned as well as all the Eleanor and Park controversy, and a way to celebrate next week's Banned Books Week. I do not actually mean anything I wrote in this post, and I completely concur with your comment that all teens are at different maturity levels; that is why I created this post laughing at the crazy things book banners often say. It is up to the reader and his or her parents to decide what books are appropriate, and I would never take a book away from anyone either.

      As for Sean Griswold's Head, you are right and that is exactly why I included it. Leavitt's book is so innocent and adorable that I thought it could be amusing to say it was racy, as censors tend to make a big deal over the most random of things. There's often no rational logic behind their accusations. (Harry Potter promotes the devil? Umm...)

      Haha, I don't feel contradicted at all! Your comment pretty much states my exact sentiments on this issue, and I'm sorry for unintentionally leading you to believe otherwise! Thank you so much for your feedback--after seeing this comment, I think I'll put up a disclaimer to make sure people don't think I actually believe a single sentence of this post. :)

  3. This is such a great post! So many times there are those nasty parents whose sole purpose on earth is to ruin the experience for other because they want to "protect their own children!" The recent controversy over Eleanor and Park and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is really kind of sad. The fact that our society is trying to limit people on such a way.
    I love how you included Code Name Verity on here!! That book was so good!! But of course it is far to "racy" for us teens!!! :-)
    Great post! I loved reading it!!!

    1. Thank you! Your comment makes me fell a lot better after all this misunderstanding. Those people you describe are some of my least favorite beings--you only have a the right to parent your own children and taking a meaningful book away from someone else could stop him from experiencing a story he or she needs. One of the best ways to protect a person, and society in general, is to make books widely available, and you're right that this situation is sad.

      It really is. Too bad it glorifieies torture and may deeply disturb readers' minds. :)

    2. Ahhhh!!!! I feel like banning any book is so wrong! The point that you made about making things readily available is so true!
      I feel like there are so many people out there who are dependent on books to learn about... well, practically everything!
      There are kids at my school who read 50 Shades of Gray to learn more about sex..or well I assume that was one of the reasons anyway!
      I don't get how people expect our generation to be open minded and tolerant when in actuality they try to hinder our learning about things that are outside the norm of our society or even things like sex that people believe should never be spoken of in public let alone in a book!
      This really was a phenomenal a post! And did you see that Elizabeth Wein tweeted the link praising your post! In case you didn't here's the link!

    3. I can't agree with this enough. I've never been the kind of person to do wild and reckless things, and I attribute this tendency partly to all the books I have read and learned from. Reading has taught me about situations that living hasn't and put me in positions I would not have otherwise experienced. And like you said, some people are more dependent on novels' teachings than other are.

      And YES ten times over to your comments on book banners hindering peoples' tolerance. People are so scared of any individual or idea that society does not deem acceptable or normal, but they should not be! Books are one of the best ways to teach open-mindedness because they let you inside the brain of a person with a different background and show you how his or her past experiences affect his or her mindset. In real life, you only get to experience your own existence, and it is horrifying that people try to steal all those perspectives away.

      And I hadn't see the tweet, so thank you so much for letting me know! It kind of made my night and I am ecstatic that such a brilliant author said such a nice thing about me/my post. :)

    4. I know!!!! I saw the tweet an was like WHAT?! That's so weird. An then I saw the link!!! I was like OMG ELIZABETH WEIN JUST TWEETED HER POST!!! THATS INSANE!! I was really excited to know what she was talking about! LOL! :-)
      And yes!! Books offer so many opinions that it really is impossible not to keep an open mind for everything!

  4. "Its main character engages in activities such as kissing her crush, which may be a bit too racy for readers under fifteen." I laughed. I can maybe see how misunderstanding can occur, but obviously, if they read at least that ONE line, they would see your sarcasm. No worries, Emily, I could clearly see your jabs/sarcasm throughout the post and I LOVED it. (and now I am adding a couple to my TBR like Poison Apples because it really sounds good)

    I don't like my books to be racy and all (or at least too much because it makes me uncomfortable), but I also don't want some person telling me or my parents what I should read. Also, that person probably hasn't even READ those books so they're just compiling the list on hearsay and assumptions. Smh.

    1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I'm dying. I am seriously dying. I went to go look at that article.

      #2 - has a "racy" cover. Um, if you don't want your teen reading intimate stories then the first clue is seeing that the people on the cover are "straddling." Also, it's NA. She does say that, but if you're gonna bash "racy" YA titles, don't inclue NA.

      #3 - It's not like the MC is the one pregnant. And besides, unfortunately, teenage pregnancy is more common. And it's not like they described the sex scene.


      #6 - "may contain sexual innuendo." I haven't read the series, but I do know when someone puts that there, they 1. haven't read it and 2. the book probably has only passionate kissing

      #7 - LOOK. AT. THE. COVER. What do you think it's about? Kindergarteners holding hands?

      #10 - I honestly wonder if the author of the post even looked at the covers. It has an egg and the title is "Bumped." I think it's a bit obvious, don't you? Besides, it's FUTURISTIC.

      #12 - is clearly classified as NA. So why is it on the list of racy YA titles?

      #13 - Okay, that's just gross. WHY WOULD SOMEONE EVEN WRITE THAT?

      #14 - NA. 'Nuff said.

      #15 - No comment. I need to censor myself.

      Back to #13, like seriously? Incest? WHO DOES THAT? I know it's at thing in the world. But brother and sister? Are they stepsiblings? Half siblings? Incest is horrible either way, but I've heard of it with like an uncle or something. BUT SIBLINGS? Oh my gosh.

    2. I am so glad you could have seen through my sarcasm, because in the hours after I posted this I was on the verge of permanently giving up on humor. The sad thing about the misunderstanding, though, is that I get why some people thought I was serious. I tried to make my accusation as insane as possible, but book banners are crazy and they actually do say things like that. They always pick the best books to slander, too. (Yay that you're planning on reading The Poison Apples, by the way. It's a bit predictable, but it's totally fun and heartwarming.)

      Even worse, like you said, the book banners often seem as if they HAVEN'T read the book. That was my purpose of including Side Effects May Vary on my list; I wanted to show how ridiculous people look when they challenge novels they clearly have not read.

      I love your response to the original article so much. There really is nothing to say to anyone who challenges The Hunger Games other than "You obviously either read the book on a very superficial level, have no concept of what makes a book gripping, or both. Go back and read for meaning, or-here's a surprising idea-get caught up in the story and realize that IT WAS WRITTEN FOR ENTERTAINMENT, NOT TO PROMOTE KILLING YOUR PEERS." That is all.

  5. Uh oh. If these are racy, then I guess most of the books I read are considered to racy for a teen. I was wondering why I'm so damaged. It's because I read books not appropriate for me and negatively influenced my decisions! It all makes sense now.

    Seriously, though, I've read so many books that can be considered too "racy" for young adults, and I'm completely fine. Books like Looking for Alaska, Thirteen Reasons Why, and The Kite Runner have actually positively influenced my life. It seems that most of the banned/challenged books are ones we can actually learn lessons from. They're really important books!

    1. And the evil of these books is so insidious that you didn't even know until now that they were causing your bad decisions! THIS IS WHY WE MUST BAN THEM.

      In all seriousness, though, you are completely right. The book's that get banned are the ones that can do people the most good, and it's so deeply saddening to see them stolen away.

      We all get different things out of books (for example, Thirteen Reasons Why struck me as whiney rather than powerful, but I have heard SO many people say it changed their entire outlook on life). We should NEVER ban ANY book because no matter what negative feelings we have for it, the story will help someone else. Some people need to learn that their opinions don't apply to everyone.

  6. I really liked Sean Griswold's Head, but I'm so happy you pointed out how racy it was. It will make me think twice about reading it again. :) And the Poison Apples sounded good until you posted this, I can't believe that a author would write a book with teens in it who bond over their "evil" stepmothers! I mean, what are these authors promoting? It's horrible the morals these authors promote in their books. :)

    Great post, it was entertaining to read! :)

    1. Then I have succeeded here. I'm glad I was able to warn you about these heart-stoppingly dangerous stories. I can't believe that these authors would be so horrible either! Who decided it was okay to promote one's ideas through literature? Especially if they are evil ideas?

      *switches to serious mode* But really, thank you! The post was entertaining to write!

  7. Haha I love satire! KISSING? Realistic teenage activities and drama?! OH THE HORROR!


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