Is anyone else put off by the words friends and family? I know I am. Whenever a sentence starts off with those two words, you'll find me napping in the corner. However, it seems that there is a repeated theme in YA books when it comes to those two things.
It might be pretty obvious where I'm going here. You see, a little trip to my bookshelf confirmed my initial suspicions. There is no family in YA. Atleast, no parents. Out of all the books I've read, only a handful have both their parents alive. And you know what? I understand. Especially in genres like fantasy, where our teen protagonist is off kicking demon ass until sunrise, parents might be a.. complication. They might slow down the plot, and form a problem for the protagonist. You see, in YA, parents are predisposed to be the voice of reason. The opposers of anything dangerous (aka fun). The literary party poopers. So how do you solve that problem? Make them vanish like the wind..
You know, I have nothing against one or both parents not being in the picture. I have nothing against a broken family portrayal or an abusive parent. It just feels like every other YA book I read has a negative/no representation of parents. It feels like the authors do it as a way to get closer to the teenage mind. Every teenage feels like they're misunderstood. Especially by parents. We all have rebelled against our parents and picked up meaningless fights with them. It's only natural that an author would reflect that in a YA book, right?
How about a healthy family relationship for a change? I agree, it's not realistic nor that common to find a completely positive family relationship in real life. But I think it would do us, younger generations, good to read about them. Who knows, maybe will figure out that locking yourself in your bedroom is not the key to everything. I don't want to sound condescending here because I am one of those teens. Out of my two brothers and I, I gave my parents the hardest time going through that "phase". Except that it's not just a phase. If I don't agree with something that my parents do now, there's a very good chance that I still won't agree later on. This "phase" is what will shape who I am when I grow up. I'm one of those optimists who believe that showing positive relationships might actually reflect in real life. I'd like to read about a cool mother or a friendly father for a change. I'm not saying to paint the sky pink for me, just give me a breath of fresh air.
I've already talked about this in my Less Romance, More Bromance post, but I didn't get into detail. So here we go: Girl friendships SUCK in YA. Like majorly suck. It's full of bitchiness and cat fights and gossip, and guess what, that was cool back in the days of Mean Girls. I don't know about you guys, but I'm sick of this. It is not okay to portray most girls carrying that much hate and insecurity. This really reflects on young girls. Much like portraying stalkerish attitude as sexy, this makes us believe that this is the norm. That girls aren't meant to be friends, just hate-filled bombs that explode mid-way through the book. And what's with the insecure protagonists? True, most girls feel that way, but maybe books can show us that it's okay to like yourself, and your body. Personally, I think reading about a girl that actually likes herself will affect me. I don't want to have an insecure character to look up to, I want that strong, confident one to be my role mode. I would want to be like her, which is basically the whole point. Books are capable of making a change, so for the love of cinnamon rolls, please, show us some healthy, positive friendships so that maybe we'd realize what we're missing out on in real life.
What's your take on the portrayal of friends and family in YA? Find other great discussion posts here