There was a lengthy delay between when Handler completed [All The Dirty Parts] and its release, as his publishers debated whether it should be marketed as young-adult fiction. The decision? No.
“They were concerned that if we published it for young people it would be chopped off at the waist. That no one would have it in their libraries and no one would be interested in fitting it into the world of young-adult literature. It would just be too much of a hot potato,” Handler says.
Handler says he witnessed how the guardians of young-adult literature – the critics, publishers and booksellers – remained “terrorised by sexual content”. The harshest criticism, he says, emerged when the concept of the book was publicised and there was outrage it would be a “dirty book for children”.
“If I had written a book about teenagers murdering one another no one would have thought twice about publishing that for young people. The idea that you could write a book about watching porn on your computer in your room and that would somehow be so dangerous that we better not let it in the library was startling to me even though I expected that it might happen.”