CSFF Blog Tour – Outcasts by Jill Williamson, Day 1

Outcasts cover

Addressing Frank Topics

This month the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring Outcasts by Jill Williamson, book 2 of the young adult dystopian fantasy series The Safe Lands. Because of Jill’s experience working along side her husband with youth in churches, she understands the pressures and temptations, hopes and desires, teenagers deal with. Rather than side-stepping frank topics, Jill faces them head-on, and I think this series is the richer for it.

I can’t think of the last time I read a book in which one of the point of view characters was struggling with lust and addiction. If only those twin demons were not part of the inner life of today’s youth. Unfortunately, I think the truth is the opposite. Our culture has held up sex as the Great Desire and the Inescapable Conduct. Consequently kids from homes and churches that teach abstinence automatically are faced with a struggle.

Their own desires are fanned into flames by the music aimed at their demographic, TV and movies, their peers, and sometimes even their parents (some wishing to live vicariously through their teens). When the culture tells them sex is natural (it is), and all that matters is that they do it safely (it is not), but the church, and more importantly, the Bible tell them sex is to be reserved for a monogamous marriage relationship between a man and woman, teens are bound to struggle. Their own passions align with the culture. Their head says one thing, their desires another.

Who helps teens navigate across this divide? Too often this is a period of their lives when they are distancing themselves from their parents as part of their growing-up-and-becoming-independent stage. Do youth leaders talk frankly with teens about how to handle the urges they’re experiencing? I suspect so. But I also suspect these kinds of talks simply give teens more information.

Stories are different. They show. Outcasts shows. Here’s a teen, two teens, three teens dealing with the same stuff, the same sexual desires, the same craving induced by mood-enhancing substances. The characters take different paths and the outcome of their choices is a natural part of the story. No preaching. No lecture. No one drawing conclusions for the reader.

Instead, the story itself gives models for teen readers. They can draw their own conclusions, understand, perhaps, their own feelings a little better in light of the struggle they see the characters experience.

The subject matter is frank, not graphic or indulgent, but not pretending that things are better or easy, even when a character wishes to change. Outcasts is an honest treatment of sensitive material, without making it The Focal Point of the story.

I think this is a huge triumph for both Jill Williamson and the editors at Blink for bringing this book, this series to readers.

Other CSFF members participating in the tour are listed below. A check mark links to a CSFF post about Outcasts.

8 Comments

  1. Interesting take on this series. Plenty of food for thought with your post!

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    • Thanks, Meagan. I think there’s plenty of food for thought in the book and it’s right where teens are at, addressing the questions they struggle with. I think this is one of the best books I’ve read with a teen audience in mind. It hits the mark, I think.

      Becky

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  2. Thanks for touring the book, Rebecca, and for your kind words. Writing a series for teens in a Babylon-type environment has been an interesting challenge.

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    • A successful one, I’d say. Love this series, Jill.

      Becky

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  3. […] are others (see all links at the bottom of my Day 1 post) you won’t want to […]

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  4. I totally missed this one didn’t I? Had a bout of man-flu, couldn’t face blogging for those few days – shame though, looks like it was a good one.

    *puts myself on the Tour naughty corner*

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    • So sorry to hear you weren’t feeling well, Steve. I actually was a little concerned since it is so not like you to miss a tour!

      And yes, this series is a winner. I hope you can pick it up some time soon.

      Becky

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  5. […] Becky Miller pointed out in her first post, Outcasts deals with real life issues head on, from drug addiction to sexual desires, but it […]

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