hi can you please explain the drama going on in the booklr community? with the white cis male author that got a movie deal? I haven't heard abut anything about this???
The headline reads: “YA Debut Gets Six-Figure Deal, Sold to 16 Territories and Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean)” and you think, oh my goodness, good for him, his book took off after being picked up and it’s a huge deal.
The articles writer, Sue Corbett, descibes the books as “Bergstrom’s heroine is Gwendolyn Bloom, a Jewish, slightly overweight 17-year-old, who is transformed into a “lean warrior with hair dyed fire-engine red,” during her mission to rescue her father, a kidnapped diplomat. Her search takes her into Europe’s most dangerous slums, and into contact with gangsters, spies, and arms dealers.”
You can probably already hear several alarm bells. For one it sounds like the plot of all three Taken movies - plus several other people pointed out it sounds exactly like The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. For some reason, Ms. Corbett makes a giant negative connotation on both overweight (and some people say Jewish as well) to a positive “lean warrior” and for some reason red hair is also an important part of the heroines development. Because of course overweight girls can’t rescue their fathers - they have to completely physically transform themselves in order to become truly kick-ass.
Then it gets worse when Scott Begstrom says “The morality of the book is more complicated than a lot of YA so I wanted to try doing it on my own,” Bergstrom said. “In a lot of YA, the conflict takes place inside a walled garden, set up by outside adult forces. If you think of those stories as a metaphor for high school, they start to make a lot more sense, but that was one thing I wanted to depart from.”
Bergstrom disses both the YA genre writers and his primary audience - which is primarily women and girls. Not only that, but he sounds like he’s literally never read a YA book in his life, let alone have any business writing one. This was I think the primary spark that caused the firestorm on twitter.
Then the article praises the story as being revolutionary and outstanding, basically the next best thing that happened to YA. So when white man writes a YA book about a hyper-violent teenage heroine
people say it’s morally ambiguous instead of being a high-school metaphor– he’s
revolutionizing the genre, gets a six figure book deal, sells to 16
countries, and a movie deal with the Pirates of Caribbean director. Meanwhile, all the female authors who’ve literally created and up-kept
YA for decades are still dismissed and side-lined and deemed unimportant and are constantly forced to defend their work and prove it’s worth simply because they are women.
The article finishes with Scott’s agent Tracy Adams “thought that Gwen would get a lot of leeway from readers because of her mission’s goal. “She’s going to do whatever it takes to save her dad and that was good enough for me,” Adams said. “Kicking butt to save your dad is actually a lot easier for me to swallow than kids killing kids in The Hunger Games.”
Can you believe that this woman basically dismisses one of the most important YA novels of our decade by trivializing it? Literally what she’s saying is “the violence is our book is more palatable that the violence you’ll see in that one really popular YA… you might have heard of it”
So as you can tell, this got a lot of people - authors, readers, and bloggers very angry. Not even because of this instant, but because this shit happens all the time, and women writers are tired of being side-lined every single time a white man decides that he’s better at doing what women have been doing their entire lives while he haven’t even bothered to learn anything about the subject.
Kayla Whaley @PunkinOnWheels on twitter created the #MorallyComplicatedYA hastag on twitter in response so that people could not only respond to this but also give recommendations about morally complicated YA novels that already exist.
I’ve also heard that people have read excerpts from the book ( @buttermybooks and @ladybookmad and @cresdarnels) have told me that this guy basically created a “I’m better than those other females” character and basically bashes the YA dystopias that already exist and their readers.
At this point, I’m not really angry with Bergstrom but with the publishers, who clearly decided that this guy - a debut author- is worth a six figure deal, rights in 16 territories, and a movie deal with a basic plot like “fat Jewish girl gets lean and red-haired when her diplomat father goes missing and she has to go to Europe to rescue him while beating up and meeting up bad guys”.
They’re showing us what they think they find valuable while ignoring the fact that this guy is literally insulting not only to the genre but the readers who love it as well.