(Huffington Post) — It started out innocently enough with a simple question, “So what types of books do you enjoy?” I was in the process of interviewing participants for my dissertation and this question was supposed to be an icebreaker. Interestingly the responses that I received from the African-American adolescent girls were not so simple. The young women, ages 14-21, informed me that they enjoyed reading romances, mysteries, and poetry, but they also enjoyed reading ‘Urban Lit’ or ‘Street Fiction’ novels as they are sometimes called. For me, their responses were a little bit startling because I’ve read a number of urban literature books and found them somewhat provocative and sexually explicit with portrayals of sexual coercion, trading sex for goods (i.e., rent, designer clothes & purses), rape, gun violence and substance abuse. In fact it took me almost 6 months to read B-More Careful by Shannon Holmes, due to its violent content and sexually explicit material. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to any adult but I struggled with some of the content. So, as I queried some adolescents about the books they read, I began to wonder about the numbers of young teens reading these books? What impressions are these books leaving them with and is the content affecting their risk behaviors and with whom are they discussing these books?
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