A Book Store, A Serious YA Novel And A Concerned Librarian

Thanks to Sarah and that fucked up church guy, I now own a copy of Laurie Halse Anderson's classic Young Adult novel Speak. To be honest, I bought it first to get it out of the way. I'm sure it's good, but for some reason, my pinky told me that I'd have to justify purchasing this novel. My pinky wasn't wrong. He rarely is.

It was my first venture into the YA aisle at Indigo's. It's not anything like the fiction section. First of all, nothing's in alphabetical order. The local search engine told me there was a whopping fourteen copies available in store, but I couldn't find one. The YA section is fracture in many sub-sections like: middle-grade, YA series, YA fantasy, etc. I looked for a good ten minutes, but I was at loss, so I asked a clerk. A skinny thirty, maybe forty years old woman with her arms permanently crossed and long, ash colored hair that she never took care of and an inquisitive stare.


I admit that a six foot tall Clint Eastwood worshipping writer with a well-studied five o'clock shadow in the YA section, next to the Twilight novels might come off as a little strange.

"Excuse me" I said. "I'm looking for a novel called Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson".

Her eyes widened. Her face slowly started falling apart, with the same uncoordinated grace than the Hindenburg. Obviously, she had read the book.

"What?" I felt forced to say. "It's for...a reading challenge".


I might not have helped myself with this. Out of context, it sounds a little creepy.

"You know it's...a novel for girls, right?"

For a second, I got so mad I could barely control myself. What's a novel for girls? How can a novel show the same properties than a skirt or lipstick? It's a novel. It's not romance, it's a novel about an important social issue.

"Well, like I said, I'm having this reading challenge and I want to read something a bit more meaningful than Harry Fucking Potter, can I?"

"Don't swear at me sir"

"I'm not swearing at you, I'm swearing at J.K Rowling".

Finally, she got me a copy. I was so pissed off and uneasy I almost walked off. That woman is not the first defensive YA reader I come across. Why would it be more awkward that a 28 years old voracious reader want to check out a very important novel? YA or not? Why would it be stranger than a woman, almost in her forties, reading it? I bought a Norman Mailer novel alongside so that the cashier wouldn't ask me questions (I also can't buy one book at the time, I always buy by pair). It's a hard start to the contest, but hopefully nobody give me crap when I'll buy the Kurt Vonnegut novel. I'll have arguments for this one.

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I'm a pop culture blogger and author living in Montreal, Canada with my better half Josie and my dog Scarlett. I am a proud member of author collective Zelmer Pulp and have about a dozen of short stories published to my resume.


  1. If I had gotten that look from the lady, I probably would have said it's a gift. Good standing up to a very judge-y lady.

    Of course I look about 16 so I'm usually getting carded for buying M rated video games instead of weird looks for buying books.

  2. Was it? I still feel like I did something wrong. I know it's stupid and that this novel is most likely very worthy to be read by anyone. It's to say how negativity and unwarranted defensiveness can go a long way.

  3. I don't see why she should have made you feel defensive about wanting a book that you know is worthy to be read. Or even if you were asking for a crappy book. Not up to her

  4. Silly woman you'd think she'd be glad to make a sale

  5. Ben you are too funny. That sounds like a bad situation, but you handled it well :) Also, screw that lady for telling you it's a girls book. What happened to promoting new genres? Sesh.

  6. My guess is that she somehow identified with the book for well...obvious reasons. I know a girl that was sexually assaulted and worked with victims afterward. She told me they get defensive with all males afterward. Anyway, it's all conjectures about that librarian.

  7. That lady was incredibly rude and insensitive. A person asks for a specific book (title AND author) and she judges their choice/request? Sheesh.

    On the bright side, I loved how you told the story. It made me laugh.