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Grittiness in YA Literature
"Children's Writers Plumb the Depths of Fear" Publisher's Weekly
This 1995 Publisher's Weekly article examines the rise in popularity of suspense and horror books among middle-grade readers. "But it's all fear, isn't it?" Cormier says succinctly at a panel dedicated to the subject, referring to the everyday fears and anxieties that plague adolescents. The panel included John Peel, Erika Tamar, David Wiesner, and Ellen LiBretto and their conversion built on the theories of psychologist Bruno Bettelheim.
"Writer pens tough teen stories" Middlesex News
In this portrait of Cormier for the Middlesex News, Lisa Alcock touches on the highlights of Cormier's career and explores the gritty realism that helps Cormier's work connect with young readers. She devotes considerable space to the newly-released Tenderness and the differences between its two main characters, Lori and Eric.
"Author transforms 'youth' genre" Telegram
This profile of Robert Cormier describes how his unflinching look at culture is drawing in new young adult readers. The article also addresses the controversy surrounding his books, especially The Chocolate War. Much of the profile discusses Cormier's place in literary history and what role the label of "YA author" might have in how future generations consider his work.
"Robert Cormier meets Melvin Burgess" Achuka Special
This piece is an edited conversation between Cormier and fellow young adult writer Melvin Burgess. Like Cormier, Burgess doesn't shy away from the dark side of growing up in books like Junk, which deals with heroin addiction. The facilitator asks four questions of both authors that address censorship, writing style, the influence of film on their work, and future work.
"Sex, Serial Killers, And Suicide" Brill's Content
Kimberly Conniff's article situates Cormier's novel Tenderness in the changing landscape of teen fiction. She uses the adjectives "gritty, immediate, and brazenly hardcore" to describe Melvin Burgess's Smack, but they could just as easily pertain to Cormier's work. Conniff also points to works like Tenderness exceeding publishers' sales expectations. She calls the move towards hardcore subject matter a ploy to bring in older teens to the young adult market and marks the prevalence of YA specific imprints at large publishing houses, YA reading lists on bookstore websites, and YA specific book prizes. Conniff makes a passing mention of the Columbine shooting as a point to reference to remind readers of how teenagers do face real problems that literature written for and about them should reflect if we are to be honest about our reality.
"That Tender Touch" book review of Tenderness
This review addresses the novel Tenderness as a book for older, young adult readers. Much of the piece focuses on Cormier's portrayals of Eric and Lori. The author contends that the two teens, though different in many ways, share a twisted search for tenderness. Zvirin does note that the novel is not as textured as thrillers in the adult market, but has enough "psychological underpinnings" for teen readers. Also, she comments on the increased sexual content, even if artfully implied rather than explicit, than is typical for Cormier.
Dystopia is Done, Fantasy is Finished: Why Realism is on the Rise in YA Fiction. In this article (no author), in The Guardian (2015 July 13), the authors unpack what they see as a modern trend, away from fantasy and toward gritty realism.
How "Young Adult" Fiction Blossomed With Teenage Culture in America. In this Smithsonian article by Michael Cart (2018 May 7), the author traces the history of YA realistic fiction, including a discussion of Cormier's The Chocolate War among many other authors, and ties changing youth book tastes to shifting needs and culture.