Today I have a wonderful guest post by Louise Gornall about a topic I feel doesn’t get much focus in the children’s lit community. Where do you draw the line for edgy content in young adult novels? Here’s what she had to say:
I want to talk about boundaries in YA. Why? Because I was recently having a chat with someone who was shocked to discover that my teen characters like to drink, swear and generally get up to no good. This person actually said I wouldn’t have thought people would like their teens reading about “that sort of stuff”. Well then I got to thinking, what is so wrong with writing some real life rebellion into my characters? Are teens really reading anything in stories that they haven’t already learnt at school, at the movies, at Brad McSexy’s Friday night Keger?
I’ve read a lot of YA Contemp. I’ve met teens that carry guns, cut themselves and spew f-bombs. Teens that have sex. Teens that drink till they puke out of their noses. Teens that commit crimes. Teens that have been raped by other teens, but the whole time I’m reading I’m thinking these are so much more than adolescent, angst ridden stories. They are relatable. Survival guides. Distinctly not manuals on how to misbehave and f@%k up your adolescence, but a place where things you’re not sure you’re allowed to talk about in real life are talked about at length. I recently read a story in which a fourteen-year-old was raped. She says nothing about what happened to her and ends up on this self-destruct downward spiral. Obviously I would want my fourteen-year-old to come to me in the event of such a tragedy, but if she couldn’t I would want her to read this book and learn how much worse things can get when you don’t talk about “that sort of stuff”.
So, what do you guys think, is there a line in YA? I see ‘there are no boundaries in YA’ advice all the time, but then I saw a query for erotic YA sink like the Titanic last week. That’s right, I said erotic YA. Chew on that for a second…leaves an icky taste in your mouth doesn’t it? Is this the line?
Louise is a YA writer from that place they call the U.K. She loves books and movies and Marvel comics and when she grows up she wants to marry Orlando Bloom. You can connect with her on twitter @Rock_andor_roll