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The Soapbox: Mom Alert – Texas Teen Book Festival

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Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless

Never judge a book by its cover is a commonly used idiom of the English language adapted from George Eliot’s fictional account of one Jeremy Tulliver in the 1860 novel The Mill on The Floss.  Mr. Tulliver, speaking of one of the books in a collection he had recently purchased, found that while the books all had the same good binding, he later realized that one in the collection might not have been widely considered as pretty on the inside as on the outside.

More than ever, Mr. Tulliver’s words ring true. We live in a puzzling world, one of the toughest assignments of all being the departing of wisdom into teenagers who basically have a foreign media-based world order that looks nothing like we Moms and Dads could have ever fathomed as teenagers ourselves.  Unless a modern day parent is willing to take the time to learn the developing language of the new world, communication can be a challenge, but this should neither take the path of mimicking straight up friendship nor compromise values that have been the bedrock of societies which have displayed the most fortitude.

In light of this communication quandary, I cannot tell you the joy I felt in prying the Wii remote from my teenager’s crusty little fingers in order to deliver the experience of an event that would actually resemble something from the former world order I once knew where he would encounter this once highly popular printed object known as a book.

“…But it seems one mustn’t judge [books] by th’ outside. This is a puzzlin’ world.” —Mr. Tulliver, The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

Whilst I know that it is quite optimistic of me to even consider the fact that my teen may ever care to join me in the simple life, I can still serve up the dream. This was going to be one life-transforming event as far as I was concerned: Texas Teen Book Festival here we come!

Because of the rush of whetting my son’s appetite for my love of reading or ANYTHING other than the lobotomy-robotomy media addiction that we Mamas battle with our kids, I never considered that the book festival would actually offer material used to entice the sexual appetite of young adult readers, yet that is exactly what I found in the content of almost ALL of the featured authors and panelists.

For instance, take Jenny Han for example, whose writings can be purchased online in Amazon’s dating and sex section just in case you missed the festival.  These are reminiscent of the old Harlequin romances minus the cheesy Fabio cover art, perfect for any 13 year old.   For those with teenage daughters who need a little coaching in how to find a soul mate at last and move from a make believe relationship to a real one, Jenny Han is definitely the writer for you.  The overarching theme teaches that boys cannot be trusted, but once a fire is lit, the only thing you can do is let it burn.

Or perhaps, you may be interested in assisting your teen in how to find their very own truth, but you don’t exactly have the right words.  Why then, very simply, you can make an easy purchase of Aaron Hartzler’s Rapture Practice which not only features the how-to on his one-way ticket to salvation, including a full-scale rebellion from the upbringing afforded to him by two “overly loving” parents who actually forced him to wear socks when he didn’t want to and had the audacity to bake precious little tomb cakes every Easter with coconut grass. Is it any wonder he felt the need to consistently buck authority and finally overcome this hell to write tell-most books, all the while discipling younglings in the art of losing their faith?

If that is simply not enough, you can also purchase Hartzler’s fictionalized account of the Steubenville rape case featured in his masterpiece entitled What We Saw when Stacey Stallard didn’t handle her alcohol very well. Hey, he is critically acclaimed, so why would anyone think twice about making him the moderator of such an event with thousands of tiny ears?

And my personal favorite of all is Jesse Andrew’s New York Times Bestseller Me and Earl and the Dying Girl that has been compared to the novel The Fault in Our Stars.  A delightfully touching foreword is provided with a moving account of a boy befriending a girl with cancer; no Mom would think twice about the benefits of making this purchase.

The onliest “Fault” of author John Green was his failure to include in The Fault in Our Stars account the actual MULTIPLE pornographic accounts of teaching teenagers the art of oral sex and how it can be improved with the use of Heinz 57. Oh, are you offended?  Yes, I was too. Quite. The “Earl” book is FILLED with material so shocking I am unable to quote it here.

So, I had no idea. If I was even remotely aware the world order had changed with regard to everything my son sees, hears, and can hold in his hands, I certainly had no idea that my good old days had also been betrayed by young adult fiction, too. Not only were these books being sold to kids with Mamas like me who would have never invested in these types of products, but at the Texas Teen Book Festival (formerly known as the Austin Teen Book Festival), the more raunchy the writing, the higher the hero rating and speaking time given to the writer.

Because agents are encouraging writers everywhere to sex it up with salacious compilations in hopes of boosting sales, I urge Moms to take action. Instagram isn’t the only teenage breeding ground for pornographic predators; now, it’s also the print inside the beautifully bound books we ourselves bought them in an effort to provide options during times of boredom. No thanks. I’d rather challenge my son to a round of Super Smash Bros and take him out with my very own Mii.

The North Texas Teen Book Festival, April 23, 2016 is coming soon. Mamas please email northtexasteenbookfestival@gmail.com and let them know that you are expecting the very best choices of authors for young impressionable minds.

Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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