Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Where Are the Parents in YA Fiction?"

Here is an article by blogger Kait Nolan that makes some excellent points about the lack of parents/effective parental figures in young adult literature. The crux of the argument is that authors miss a great opportunity for realistic tension when they kill off or otherwise remove the parents in a YA story, and that it can be kind of lazy move:

"While I totally get that (Parents, not shockingly, want to stop bad stuff from happening to their kids.  They don’t always manage it, but they try.), I think that there’s definitely a missed opportunity for conflict by eliminating parents.

Your heroine needs to kick ass and save the world…and still make it home by curfew or she’s gonna be grounded.  Meaning she has to sneak out to save the world from the next disaster.  And it’s not just situational conflict that can arise.  There’s the inevitable emotional conflict that comes up as teens are attempting to assert their independence from parents who still think of them as children.  Hellooooo?  That’s classic teen angst relatability right there."

Nolan gives some examples of books that do include present parents to good effect. I can't think of any similar examples off the top of my head, although I will point out that some of the best parts of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are thanks to the Slayer's loving, protective, sometimes clueless but always awesome mom, Joyce Summers. As Nolan points out, which makes for a better, more relatable heroine? A self-sufficient teen with no restrictions, or someone in danger of being grounded, misunderstood, and influenced (but still, hopefully, supported/loved) by a parent?


John Michael Cummings said...

Dear Fantastic Finds:

I'm an author with a new collection of YA short stories, Ugly To Start With (West Virginia University Press).

Will you please consider reviewing it?

I've been writing and publishing for twenty years--more than one hundred stories and two novels--and Ugly To Start With is my best work.

My first novel, The Night I Freed John Brown (Penguin), won The Paterson Prize for Fiction and was recommended by USA Today.

My short stories have appeared in more than seventy-five literary journals, including North American Review, The Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Chattahoochee Review. Twice I have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. "The Scratchboard Project" received an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2007.

If you write me back at johnmcummings@aol.com, I’ll send you a PDF of my collection for your consideration.

At this point, my small publisher is out of available review copies, so I hope and politely ask that you consider the PDF.

I would be very grateful.

Thank you so much.

John Michael Cummings

Emily said...

Hi! I would be happy to, I will send you an email.

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