Sunday, September 26, 2010

Is This What It Has Come To?

I found a youth book in the middle-school section of a local bookstore, nestled among stories of darkness, the occult, and those (yawn) private-school stories of sexy, mean cliques with plaid skirts on the cover. The title? Brace yourself:

WTF.

No, I am not joking. That is the actual title of the book.

I'm serious. That is the title.

The actual product description of the book WTF: "Two parties, six alternating points of view, and three letters that says it all--WTF!"

Did I mention this was in the middle-school section? I already did? Forgive me.

"When a deer crashes through a windshield, it is only the first of many inexplicable (or "wtf") moments experienced during a long night in New York City for six teens from a prep school involved in a drug sale destined for disaster. That the "drugs" are really generic aspirin and that several want out of the business makes the evening even more surreal. Relationships shift and change as much as the narrators and the time frame -- each chapter identifies the narrator and the date and time, and there are some flashbacks and peeks ahead to keep readers on their toes. The patchwork image on the cover hints at plot points, and teens will be eager to see how Lerangis stitches them all together. The title reflects the hip and foul language of the very believable, smart urban teens..." —Booklist

Picture it wrapped in Christmas paper under the tree this year, folks. So quaint.

"What can I get you for Christmas, Sophia?"

"Oh, Grandma, I love books!"

Grandma beams. She, too, is a book lover. She's so proud that was passed on to her darling Sophia. Runs in the family, she thinks. "Give me a title, sweetheart."

Sophia says brightly, "WTF. Everyone has it at school."

Grandma eagerly writes it down. Sophia goes to a Catholic middle school. If the kids there are reading it, it must be okay, she thinks.

Letters. That's odd, she thinks, wondering what they stand for.

She heads to the bookstore in her big old Buick, filled with the excitement of Christmas shopping. She plans to go to the grocery store afterward to buy ingredients for Christmas cookies. The giving spirit of the season is really making her feel good. Sprinkles, she thinks to herself suddenly. Mustn't forget the sprinkles.

At the bookstore, she purchases WTF. She has no idea what it is about, but Sophia wants it so much that she wants to please her. And Sophia is such a sweet girl. Last year she bought her Little Women. Did Sophia read it? She must have. Who wouldn't read such a beautiful book? It was her favorite when she was Sophia's age. Oh, that Jo March. What a feisty girl. Grandma giggled to herself. What a character Jo was.

A few weeks later, after Christmas dinner, Grandma hands Sophia a couple of brightly wrapped packages. Sophia tears the smaller one open and holds it up. Mom, always with the camera, wants to snap a picture.

"Hold it up, Honey," she urges, as she does with every Christmas present. The fireplace is crackling with the Duraflame log Dad lit. "O Holy Night" is playing on the radio. Their cat, Tweezer, is curled up into a ball and is sleeping in front of the warmth of the fireplace.

"WTF," her dad repeats as he looks at the title.

"WTF," her older brother repeats in shock as he stares wide-eyed at his sister. He knows exactly what WTF means. He can't believe he's the only one in the room who does.

Later that evening, Grandma's at home, sipping chamomile tea in her cozy robe as she watches EWTN on TV. She smiles, thinking of how good she feels giving Sophia a book and a sweater instead of those electronic things the kids are all into nowadays. It's good for kids to be reading, she thinks to herself as she nibbles on a Christmas cookie. And reading is a lifelong hobby. A good book will never let you down.

At her house, Sophia is in bed in her flannel jammies, snuggled up with WTF and learning lots of new words she's never heard before. She closes the book. Yikes. I don't know about this, she thinks, feeling guilty. But I really like the story. I want to know what happens next. So she continues reading. Sophia is transported to a world she's never known.

You don't think this would happen? Think again.

Just so you know: This book could be circulating at your child's school library. Demand wholesome books instead. Do it.

Demand better for your children, parents.

Demand better.

WTF.

My sentiments exactly.



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