Here’s why:

Parent to Pat at author event, all enthused: My son plays hockey! I’m
going to give him Open Ice!

Pat, all worried: Uh … how old is your son?

Parent: He’s twelve!

Pat: Well … Open Ice is really for kids 14 and up.

Parent: But MY son reads WAY above grade level!

Pat: Welllll … it’s not really about reading level, it’s more a matter of content.

Parent: What do you mean?

Pat: You know … the kids talk the way high school kids talk, and they do the things high school kids do?

Parent: Oh! (Skitters away, horrified)

   Sadly, there are not enough parents – and teachers and librarians – here in the enlightened 21st century who think as my mom did back in the benighted 20th (see About the Author). Censorship now seems to be the rule rather than the exception, and that’s really unfortunate. Because when adults feel the need to water down the reading material so that only innocuous books are offered, then kids – especially guys – are not going to read. (Then everyone moans that “boys don’t read” – but that’s another rant.)

Anyway … instead of waiting for parents to write more outraged reviews of Open Ice on Amazon, I figured I might as well say up front: There’s a reason for that “14 and up” designation on the book jacket, and it ain’t about big fancy words.  With that caveat comes this assertion: Kids can handle in a book the same kind of stuff they see constantly on TV, in the movies, in popular music, and in their day-to-day-lives.

    When I speak at middle schools, kids often express great interest in Open Ice – probably because of its “14 and up” designation. I have a little exercise I do in such classes: “How many people watch South Park?” Generally, a majority of hands go up. Next I ask: “How many people’s parents know they watch South Park?” Most hands stay raised.

    Now, I like South Park a lot, and I’ve been watching it with my own kids for years. But the show’s graphic sexual references and crude language make Open Ice look like The Hardy Boys. So I tell the middle schoolers: “If your parents let you watch South Park, they should have no problem with Open Ice.”

     And please ... don’t shoot the messenger. I’m not a YA author who intentionally writes to shock; I know some do, but I have no patience with being edgy for edgy’s sake. The kids in Open Ice are based on observation and real-life knowledge. So if parents and librarians don’t like it that kids drink alcohol, smoke weed, curse, and have sex, please blame our culture, not my book.        


“Why would you put a parental rating on your own book?”