Recently a kerfuffle erupted on Twitter over a book called The Cruelty and its author, S. Bergstrom. Bergstrom, the S is for Scott, was interviewed by Publishers Weekly where he said:

“The morality of the book is more complicated than a lot of YA so I wanted to try doing it on my own,” Bergstrom said. “In a lot of YA, the conflict takes place inside a walled garden, set up by outside adult forces. If you think of those stories as a metaphor for high school, they start to make a lot more sense, but that was one thing I wanted to depart from.”


Interview is in full here.

YA readers and writers on Twitter were up in arms, because, clearly if you’ve read any YA in the last couple of years, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that wasn’t morally complicated. I’d venture to say even Pigsty Princess, which isn’t marketed as YA but could be given that the heroine is twenty years old, is a bit morally complicated. Mariana discovers that nothing she believed about her life, including her identity, is not what she thought. I could be wrong, but seems like that might be morally complicated.


Anyway, Mr. Bergstrom wanted to get away from heroines who were too girly and give young women role models who were strong. His heroine is an overweight Jewish girl who slims down and becomes a warrior to save her father.

He stated that she wasn’t a character who was into all that girly, pink, cheerleader stuff. His book is original that way. His character doesn’t want to spend her days getting her nails done and writing in her diary about her latest crush.



Wow, Scott! Amazing because other than the beginning of the Vampire Diaries, I’ve never read a book where that’s what any heroine wanted to do. But even if that’s what she wanted, why is that bad? I mean, shouldn’t our readers be able to relate to our characters, get into their heads, understand what they’re feeling?

When I was growing up, I read a lot of historical romance, and never once did I read about a heroine who liked doing embroidery. Every one complained that she had to work on her stitching when she wanted to be out learning to shoot, fight, and/ride like the boys.

I hated that. I love to sew. I make quilts and clothes and knit and embroider and all of that feeds my soul and makes me happy. I wanted to see a woman in a book enjoy those things and still be worthy of having a book written about her.


The strongest woman I know was my mom who taught me to sew. She dealt with being a single mom for 18 months to two years at a time while Dad was overseas with the Army. She was the day supervisor and assistant directress of nursing at our local hospital. When Dad went into kidney failure, she learned how to do his dialysis treatments in our home, and when he died in a hospital two hours away from home at four in the morning, she drove home so we wouldn’t have to hear that news from a stranger.

She loved to sew and wear dresses and have pretty things around. She didn’t have to be like a guy to be a heroine.

Pigsty Princess
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