The title was a bit of a mouthful, but hey at least you know what I’m talking about, right? Basically, this is just me ranting about 10 things I wish YA books would include, and YA authors would write more about. After writing all these dot points I figured that a lot of it is just shit I want to see changed in our world as well, but let’s start a little smaller with focusing on the books we read first.
This idea came from the Top Ten Tuesday segment hosted by Broke and Bookish, and then kind of just turned into a more detailed, more ranty post. But nonetheless, I hope you agree with some (or all) of my points and enjoy (I guess).
- Diversity/good, positive representation. Do I really even need to explain the importance of diversity in YA? Or just in books in general? There’s definitely been a lot more diversity included in YA books in the last year or so, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not still needed. And when I say diversity, I mean all types of diversity. As well as being diverse, the representation needs to be positive and accurate, otherwise, it could be offensive and harmful to those being represented. If you’re a writer, make sure to do your research to ensure you’re representing minorities correctly and in a positive way, but also if you make mistakes or harm someone through your work, apologise and learn from it.
- Positive family relationships. WHY ARE GOOD FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS IN YA BASICALLY NON-EXISTENT!!!!!!!!!! Seriously though. It’s actually kind of sad that a lot of Young Adult novels don’t include families, seeing as most young adults have a very strong family presence in their lives. Of course, I know for some people their parents/family aren’t a very positive presence in their lives, but why does this always have to be the way in YA? Why can’t all families be happy and supportive and fun? LIFT YOUR GAME, YA!
- Sex positivity. Let’s get this straight; a lot of teenagers have sex. Yet very rarely do Young Adult books include sex. And a lot of the time when it is included, it’s looked at in a rather negative way, especially if a character has had sex with a few different people. SLUT SHAMING IS NOT OKAY. I think it’s important to include sex in YA books, especially safe sex, and even try to talk about it in an informative and educational way. Of course, I’m not trying to say that every teenager has or even wants to have sex, and I think that should be discussed openly and included in YA books as well.
- Strong, female friendships. I’m so sick of bitchiness in YA. Why can’t girls get along? Why can’t girls support girls? Why are there barely ever any strong, supportive, female friendships? I get that girls can get jealous of other girls since we’ve been brought up in a society that’s made us compare ourselves to other girls, but it’s time to change this negative attitude towards each other. Females are awesome and strong, and having supportive female friends in literature is a small step to show young girls that we are damn awesome and should bring each other up, rather than down.
- Books without romance. Kind of continuing on with the friendship theme, I definitely think there should be a lot more books out there that have a greater focus on friendships, life, and families, rather than relationships and romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance, but not everyone does. We don’t need to send a message to young people that ‘love and romance will make you happy and is basically all you need in life’ because that’s not true. We don’t need every single character in YA to experience love and romance to be happy, when so many other things, such as friends and family, can make just as compelling a story.
- Male characters showing emotion. Another thing that’s been ingrained into our minds through our society, the whole idea that males have to be strong, masculine, and show little to no emotion because otherwise they’re seen as weak. Feeling emotions is literally a part of who we are as humans, so why the hell are we telling boys to hide their feelings? Let males be sensitive, let them show how they’re feeling, let them cry onto other boys’ shoulders; stop shaming them for having feelings and expressing them.
- Bromances. Again, kind of continuing on with males showing emotion, let boys show each other some love and appreciation! I love when two male friends are super close, such as Will and Jem in the Infernal Devices, but there are not nearly enough bromances in YA books. A lot of the time, the friends are forgotten about or pushed aside for the love interest and that kind of sucks. Give me some more adorable, fun bromances, please.
- Healthy romances/relationships. This one is pretty obvious, and I feel like I shouldn’t even have to say anything, but hey, I’ve read some books that have either been borderline assault or actual sexual/domestic abuse played off as romance and passion. This is not okay. A man does not, no, should not, be trying to show a woman how much he loves her by using unnecessary force against her, and the woman should not see this as okay or passionate. YA books need to show girls that this type of treatment is not okay, even if it’s verbal and not physical abuse, and needs to show boys that there are other safer and better ways to show how much you care for a girl.
- Feminism. I feel like I’ve kind of covered some points on feminism in this post already, but I figured it could have it’s own separate dot point purely because I think it’s important to talk about and show feminism in all books, regardless. Like, come on already. The girl doesn’t need to be saved by the guy; she can save herself, okay?
- Trigger warnings. And finally, let’s talk about trigger warnings. I know people are a little divided on the inclusion of trigger warnings for books, mainly because some see them as spoilers. This is definitely not the case. All you need is to have a small disclaimer on the blurb, or at the beginning of the novel, explaining that the book includes some triggering and potentially harmful content. For example, “warning: this book has potentially triggering content such as self-harm, suicide, abuse,” etc, etc. It’s not at all a spoiler because it literally tells you nothing about the plot. It’s merely there to help those who may find such things harmful and therefore can avoid it if necessary.
So there you have it! If you read all of that, I applaud and thank you.
Let me know if you agree with any of the points I made, or if you have some of your own!
Until next time,