Saturday, November 6, 2010

SEX?! In Young Adult Novels?! Oh my!

I was reading a YA author's blog recently, and when asked why she wrote in the YA genre, she answered frankly that one reason was that she didn't want to write sex scenes! This cracked me up because it is so spot on! My graduate studies in children's literature has made clear the long tradition of viewing children as innocents who are not to be corrupted, not to mention the notorious history of book-banning. Consequently, there's traditionally hasn't been too much sex in YA books. But this is changing, most notably among some excellent male authors willing to transgress normative YA sex-talk boundaries like Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and John Green's Looking for Alaska (mainly in their *shocking* frank discussions of masturbation, which really, is even more transgressive than talking directly about sex!). For all the girls, on the other hand, there are several writers who are talking details of the deed (albeit couched in someone ambiguous terms, at least as far as naming body parts goes) in their books:

Simone Elkeles: Both Perfect Chemistry and Leaving Paradise are so, so good, surprisingly good. And yeah, sexy too. No problem talking about melodramatic sexy situations here! Unfortunately, the sequels to both of these books bummed me out, but the initial books are great reads.

Jennifer Echols, who's recent two books, Going Too Far and Forget You.
I've been seeing a lot of attention toward, and for good reason, they are quality chick-lit reads. These books are fluffy, but oh the most delicious and well-written kind of fluff. And unabashed with the sexy.

One of my favorites is Elizbeth Scott, who continues to take on such a variety of interesting projects, mixing up really difficult stories like Living Dead Girl and her newest one, Grace (which I really want to read), with other plain-talking very real feeling stories of teenage girl life. She's like Sarah Dessen, but with more honesty and real-to-lifeness, and she doesn't seem to feel the need to wrap up every little ending with a happy, unrealistic bow. I first read Bloom by her, which talks about a girl dealing with burgeoning sexy feelings and just last week read The Unwritten Rule, the rule being, don't want your best friend's boyfriend. But the stories are so much more complex and honest than their cover blurbs. I love every one of her books, but they are always too short!

And one by a debut author this year that was absolutely amazing, top ten reads of the year: Jandy Nelson's The Sky Is Everywhere. I mean, this is amazing writing, hands down, poetic and gorgeous and with a super compelling story, and again, not afraid to talk about female sexuality.

No comments:

Post a Comment