Hi dear friends,
I am back with another discussion post thanks to Greg @bookhaven ! You see Greg loves quizzes that’s why I put some every Sunday for him to play. Two weeks ago it was “YA make out scene” and he was all: What??? YA and make out? What quizz is that?
It made me think about indeed what I do want to read about in YA books and what I don’t want to read about in that genre.
I know many smart and well versed people will go with precise and lengthy definition of what is considered as YA or not.
I will simply go with my guts and admit that I consider YA all that my teenagers could read without problems.
I would say that YA to me goes from reads meant for 14 to 18 years old (but seen below about older readers).
Now that this is established, let’s look into what I don’t want to read in YA books.
What about sex?
Well I know sex is part of life and teenagers are usually hyper connected. Gone are the birds and the bees. But there is a limit between hinting at sex scene and having a graphic sex scene in the book!
I’m not a prude as I have read FSOG and Tiffany Reisz books. BUT when I read the sequel of a still to be released famous YA book and read all the details about sex scenes hinting even at BDSM I WAS SHOCKED! I felt …dirty! What I did not feel with FSOG. Because I expected that in an adult erotic book, not in YA.
I have no problems with kissing or words like “heavy petting” but more ….no.
I don’t want my kids to read these scenes even if I explained reproduction and pleasure in details since their young age. Go figure?
What about cursing?
Well I don’t mind cursing here and there and I know I go against the majority as long as they are few. If you have some at every page then no. No need to have a filthy mouth in YA books. It won’t make you attractive.
What about adult main characters?
Obviously that’s a no! What makes a young adult book to me is that the characters are teenagers of very very young adults. It’s all about their life, their journey and what they are going through, be it first love, overcoming your fears, opening your eyes or even a quest if this is a fantasy book.
What I do want to find in them and why I love them so much:
I want to find values.
I want stories with characters having strong values or challenging their beliefs. I think children and teenagers are inspired by what they see on TV, what games they play but also by what they read!
Giving them books with characters having strong moral compass, even if they make mistakes, will inspire them to follow their example! I don’t want to have books glorifying hate, racisme, laziness etc. No I want these stories to inspire and also to give hope and courage to teenagers because they can be lost or feel at odd with their classmates.
I want to find vulnerability and/or differences
I love when YA books talk about young people who are differents. I’ve always tried to make my kids open to differences because we are all different and because it enriches a life to meet people from different culture, beliefs, upbringing or sexual orientation.
I did not want to have stuck up and intolerant kids!
That’s why my favorite YA books are these with flawed characters like suffering from mental illness or handicap, with characters coming from “the wrong side of the track” or characters that experienced a hard life and feel vulnerable. Even characters having different sexual preferences (remaining PG see above).
I want to have well written books.
I read somewhere while researching for this post that YA books need to be “easy to read with simple sentences”. Well excuse me to disagree on this point! I think that having books with beautiful sentences, using sometimes more intricate words makes for excellent YA books! I don’t mean that you have to be so complicated in your prose that even an adult can’t understand what your meaning is! But I recall having read the Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas father as a teenagers and being utterly smitten with the beauty of the writing and the use of old French phrasing!
So excuse me if I would love for my kids to read beautiful and no basic writing!
I want to find arresting topics. Rebelious ones or topics that make you think!
I’ve always wanted my kids to think with their head and heart. Not to follow everyone and everything like sheeps. Not to gobble up what they hear and see on the TV but criticize. God knows how media can show only one side of the story. And how many fake news do we see every day on internet?
I want the books to have “What if?” topics.
Take The Hunder Games for example. It was all about the government’s manipulation!
Or The Hate U Give and the really sensitive topic of racisme. Or “Speak” and “A Girl made of Stars” talking about rape.
Or “A Very Large Expanse of Sea” talking about religious beliefs and preconceived ideas.
I want books that open my tennager’s eyes. Books that are NOT black or white because life is not black or white but in many shades of grey.
I want books with kindness and redemption. With faith in humanity
We all make mistakes. That’s how we learn and how we grow up.
I think it’s important that our kids (or us adults because we are many way past our teenage years still reading and loving the genre) have stories about characters making mistakes, learning from them and still going on. Life does not stop after you made a mistake. That’s how human work. But it’s important to forgive. Others and yourself.
Try to do better yes but also be indulgent with yourself and others. Mistakes happen and that’s not the end of the world.
Have also faith in humanity and show good people. We see so many dreadful things on the news that we do tend to think that the world is rotten. But that’s so far from the truth! Most people are kind and good. I think it is important to show this to our kids. To help them hope in a better world. To help them have faith in humanity.
Pfew I will stop here!
Oh and for the record, I think we are NEVER TOO OLD (or too young) to read YA books. As long as you enjoy them go for it and read all your contempt! It sure did help me having fantastic bonds with my kids as we discussed the books we had read and loved!
Now I am really interested in YOUR answers. What do you want to read about in YA books and what do you NOT want to read?
Thanks for reading!