A new category for me, a probably irregular look at something, in particular, that’s caught my eye, something that’s really made my blood boil. Today, it’s the people attacking a YA author (Laura Moriarty) for bringing out a book that they don’t think she should have written, that she, in their opinion, had no right to write. Big shout out to Jon Del Arroz who brought this up on Twitter earlier.
From the blurb:
Imagine a United States in which registries and detainment camps for Muslim-Americans are a reality.
Fifteen-year-old Sarah-Mary Williams of Hannibal, Missouri, lives in this world, and though she has strong opinions on almost everything, she isn’t concerned with the internments because she doesn’t know any Muslims. She assumes that everything she reads and sees in the news is true, and that these plans are better for everyone’s safety.
But when she happens upon Sadaf, a Muslim fugitive determined to reach freedom in Canada, Sarah-Mary at first believes she must turn her in. But Sadaf challenges Sarah-Mary’s perceptions of right and wrong, and instead Sarah-Mary decides, with growing conviction, to do all she can to help Sadaf escape.
The two set off on a desperate journey, hitchhiking through the heart of an America that is at times courageous and kind, but always full of tension and danger for anyone deemed suspicious.
Now, would I read this book? Nope. I’m old, I’m male and I haven’t had an interest in YA lit since reading Harry Potter to my kids as a bedtime story. Also, the names she’s chosen for the main characters grate in my inner ear. Sarah-Mary? I’d have gone with Sarah-Mae. I’d also probably have gone with Salah for Sadaf too. The premise sounds interesting though, and if I was looking for something for my 13-year-old granddaughter to pick up I’d happily buy it for her. Sounds like there’s some action, a bit of adventure and a friendship story in there, and I know she likes all three. Here you go, take my money. I’d have to wait until next year though, because, and this is key here; the book hasn’t been published yet.
Not been published, and yet it has 20 reviews, and not one is from an advance reader copy. 20 reviews from people who haven’t even read the book. 20 people who are offended merely because this book exists. Why are they offended? White Knighting comes up a lot, as does it offends me because Muslim Internment camps are real (no there not, I checked.) Guilty of whiteness gets a check mark too.
Ahh man, the bull***t is so strong with this one, but the thing I keep seeing, again and again, is ‘this wasn’t your story to tell’. Really, whose story is it then? Did Laura go up to a POC and steal this idea from her? No? Then it’s her bloody story to tell then, isn’t it? It came from her imagination, is peopled by imaginary characters that she has created in a world that is a fantasy, because, and I cannot stress this enough Muslim Internment Camps do not exist. Not one. Not one single person in the USA has received a knock on the door from a police officer, been asked if they are guilty of being a Muslim and whisked away into detention. NOT ONE. If you can prove me wrong I will happily retract, but until that point, nope, not having it.
Writers tell stories. Anything that comes out of their imagination is for them to tell if they so desire it. There have been many times when I’ve had a story idea and then thought, ‘Nah, not my story to tell’ usually because it’s in a genre that doesn’t interest me. Write a Mills and Boon Romance, not going to happen, those aren’t my stories to tell.
At the moment.
We all know what’s happening here though don’t we, we’ve seen how this plays out. A book is written, howler monkeys scream about it, making as much noise as they can across social media. As the publication date gets closer the shrieking will intensify. It’s going to get so much worse for Laura, so much pressure is going to be put on her to withdraw her own book (not that she can, not with a Trad-Pub contract) and HarperCollins will do nothing to shield her. Their (howler monkeys) intention is to get the book stopped, and they will make as much noise as they can to do so.
As an end thought, let me ask you this: How many of the people ‘reviewing’ this book would have actually bought it? None is the answer, not one of them. These are not customers lost, there is nothing on earth that could have made them buy one of Moriarty’s books. The people that they’ll stop from buying it? They’d never have bought the book either. Despite all the screaming, the ‘oh you’ve hurt my fee fee’s’ not even a single sale has gone, and I hope Laura Moriarty knows that.
Their rage is bull***t.