When I met Jeffrey Brown, I thought he was a little crazy. He told me his high-school aged daughter had brought home a copy of SOLD, that he’d stayed up all night reading it, and that he was going to make it into a movie. Years have passed since then, years and a hundred doors that were shut in his face as he tried to secure funding. Eventually, he and his partner, Jane Charles, met a dozen women in Seattle, women who were interested in fighting trafficking, but who didn’t want to fund another program or another shelter. They wanted to spread the word about trafficking all over the world. Largely through the generosity of the “SOLD Sisters” and Jeffrey’s undying persistence, the film starts shooting today. I consider this a miracle – a miracle of generosity, tenacity and hope. Here is a proof of that miracle: a photo of the location he and Jane found for Lakshmi’s house.
In this weekend’s New York Times, Joyce Carol Oates, when asked about her favorite young adult novels, described a “radically extended sense of what ‘young adult’ literature can be.” She then went on to list “Huckleberry Finn,” (published in 1884) “The Call of the Wild,”(1903) “The Member of the Wedding,” (1946) “To Kill a Mockingbird, “(1960) “The Catcher in the Rye” (1951), and “Lord of the Flies.” (1963)
All wonderful books. But all written before the existence of the personal computer, the video game, the ATM, or Ritalin.
Before the widespread use of the birth control pill.
Before the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan.
Before the voting age was lowered to 18.
Before Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Before AIDS, Facebook, or the Stonewall riots.
Surely it’s not too radical to suggest that Ms. Oates read a few books written in the past 50 years.
For one of this country’s leading writers and intellectuals, it was a shockingly obvious and lazy choice of books. And for someone of her stature, it was a missed opportunity to be generous to her fellow (contemporary) young adult writers.
It’s been a while since Joyce Carol Oates was a young adult. Cherry Ames was still a student nurse and Nancy Drew was driving her Roadster. But surely, since then she’s heard of Markus Zusak, Carolyn Coman, and John Green.
Then again, maybe not. After all, she’s the one who said that young adult fiction “is just stripped-down adult fiction with more dialogue and less description.”