My 13 year old daughter is reading the 50 Shades trilogy. Both Carolyn and I have asked her to review the books for the blog but so far she's refused. We'll keep asking but I know her well enough to know she'll never do it.
But here's the thing: my girl isn't much of a reader. If she likes a book she'll read it, if it's part of a series then she'll read the series. But usually she reads below her level and she doesn't show a lot of interest in reading to where her competence is. So if she asks for a book, I'm going to say yes because I want to see more reading from her, not less.
I don't have much issue with her reading explicit sex because she reads 5SOS fan fic on Wattpad and that has explicit (and badly written) sex. So I know she's already been exposed to it. and with our relationship, we've talked about it and I know she'll come to me with questions or comments.
So my kid started reading the book and the first thing she said was "This is like written by a 15 year old girl writing fan fiction. It's not good." My heart applauded.
But she kept reading and we talked about it as she made her way through the book. Some of it she mocked but she read it daily and loved it. She texted me when I was at work to tell me that a part she was reading made her feel breathless. When she talks about the book she smiles like we're talking about a cute boy and she gets excited. Obviously the book has her aroused in part and it's written in a way that's addicting to a young reader.
I've been mocking 50 Shades since it became a phenom but watching my kid read it, seeing her so hopelessly in love with the story... it changes my opinion. I'm still not going to read it, I like to read books that have grace in writing and I know this one lacks that but I won't mock it again. Not now. Not seeing what it does.
I don't believe there's such a thing as bad reading. Even reading comics is reading and using one's imagination. It's all story telling and that's good. That's more than good, it's necessary. And this book, no matter what, is telling a story that a lot of women, my daughter included, want to hear.
So yay to 50 Shades for exciting a young reader. (And she's started Book 2 and has Book 3 ordered from Amazon.) Long may your cat of nine tails wave.