The kerfuffle over which YA books are bad for kids got me thinking that I could be Super Helpful by providing my readers with a list of the worst offenders, books that if you read them will probably turn you into a homicidal maniac, or make you clinically depressed, or at the very least a Very Bad Person. So get ready because this is a list (in no particular order) of the worst books, the ones that you should never, ever, EVER read.
GO ASK ALICE by Beatrice Sparks: Originally billed as an anonymous journal, Sparks eventually took credit for the book which she said was based on the life of one of her patients, though the veracity of her claim is still in doubt. The journal entries contain explicit language and references to rape, drugs sexual encounters and runaways. It will probably make you a drugged-up runaway. Just don’t go there or here.
DINKY HOCKER SHOOTS SMACK by M.E. Kerr: In which an obese teen is ignored by her parents who rather spend time helping drug addicts. School Library Journal called it one of the 100 most significant books for young adults in the 20th century, but what the hell do they know? Don’t get it here or here.
MONSTER by Walter Dean Myers: From his jail cell, aspiring film-maker, Steve recounts how he became caught up in violent circumstances and wound up on trial for murder. Is he really a monster as the prosecutor claims? I’m begging you not to read this one.
SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson: 9th grader Melinda deals with isolation, cruel peers and a secret she just can’t talk about. A year ago some dude in the middle of nowhere tried to have it banned from school lists. He was probably right. Speak out here and here.
THE CHOCOLATE WAR by Robert Cormier: Refusing to sell chocolates at his boarding school reveals an underlying culture of gangs and violence. What a horrible thing to do to chocolates! Terrible. And even worse.
I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson: After a self-inflicted plague, mankind is virtually extinct, leaving Robert Neville to deal with the monstrosities that remain. Will probably turn you into a vampire or a crazy vigilante.
13 REASONS WHY by Jay Asher: Clay Jensen comes home one day to find his name on a box with 13 tapes inside. They are recorded by recently-deceased school mate Hannah, and reveal the reasons for her suicide. Is Clay one of the 13 reasons? Skip this one. For sure.
I AM THE CHEESE by Robert Cormier: Adam Farmer’s life is a work of fiction with a manufactured family and an altered identity. He wants to rediscover his past, but that may cost him his life. Will quite obviously make your life into nightmarish fiction.
SHINE by Lauren Myracle: When Cat’s friend falls victim to a hate crime, she sets out to find the culprit and reveals a town plagued by drug use, intolerance, and poverty. The startling conclusion? You’ll never read it.
WHEN SHE WAS GOOD by Norma Fox Mazer: Em survives her alcoholic father, silently depressed mother, and abusive older sister. But can she survive on her own? Don’t have anything to do with this. Really. Don’t.