But the truth is that YA literature, when written by a person who should be writing it, is inherently subversive, because it assumes that children have minds. Children's concerns are political and interpersonal to a degree that adult concerns are not, because your job as a child is to figure out the world. And writing for that audience means addressing those concerns in a respectful and rational way. Childhood is a political state; all children's literature is political literature.
Especially if, as it often does, it explains the workings of the world the way Hunger Games does, which is: You will always be carrying Frank on your back. You will always be paying the price for somebody else's need to control, because in a world of all cops there wouldn't be anybody left to arrest, so somebody's got to be on the bottom of the pile. Without the blood and shit of the underclass to run on, the whole machine would die, and child labor has always been the cheapest kind, because they're a renewable resource that results from fucking. Which is every kind of narcissism at once.
And that's why this episode is marvelous, because what's Frank reading them? You got it. And not because it's a popular kids' book, but because it's the purest example in recent literature of what our generation has been handed. Fiona comes home and asks -- after a long day of feeling like a hockey whore -- if Sober Frank might get gainfully employed, but Debbie shushes her so she goes into the kitchen to cry and feel absolutely terrible about herself some more. Steve took the edge off, it is his pleasure to do so, but Real Or Not Real: If she trusted him and he's betrayed her, then isn't she worse off than she was before? Just like she's been saying all along?
Lip finds her there but she won't tell him why she's crying, because it's always the same reason because her life is very small, and very hard, and finally she's like, "On another topic, why are you so pissed at Frank for being awesome right now?" Lip still can't believe the amnesia of everybody: "We've been through this before? Last time Dad was sober? He had a bet with some guy at the bar, and became the perfect dad? First time he ever came to one of my Little League games, and I hit a double. I fucking never saw him so proud."
Fiona's like, "And it didn't mean anything, because you knew it wasn't real?"
"No, that's the thing: I didn't know."
Lip heads over to Karen's to get her for another trip to see the robotics lab, and tosses stones at her window. Why didn't he knock? He thought she might have a boy up there. And as it happens, she did -- Jason Pierce helped her find a torrent site, presumably she blew him, and now he's gone -- and when Lip's face twists you have to wonder if he really has a problem with her choice, or the fact that this is still going on at all. Real or not real? Because as it turns out, Lip and Karen are playing the Fiona game with each other, refusing to trust even the idea of love in case they hit a double and everything goes to hell again.