Today is time for another discussion =D
I’m about to write about the importance of portraying healthy relationships in YA. The reason why I’m writing about YA, is because I feel the lack of healthy relationships in YA, much more than in the adult genre. Sure, sometimes adult books mess up too and portray something unhealthy or incorrectly, but I feel that to be a common occurrence in young adult books. So here is my discussion!
YA disturbingly lacks the portrayal of healthy, regular familial relationships, in its quest to write about broken, sad, or desolate family lives. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve picked up a YA book and it turns out that the family is broken or their is no family life of the characters. Of course, I’m in no way belittling people who actually have such families, but I would love to see some normal, happy, loving families once in a while too. Not every family has an abusive father, or an addicted mother, or an evil stepmother, or dead parents, or evil foster-parents, or families with other tragedies. Happy families exist too and I’d love to see more of those.
The reason why portraying such happy, normal families is important, is because it is realistic and shatters the notion that you need to have a sad, broken past/family life in order to have a ‘deep’ or ’emotional’ story. I feel like there is this notion in fiction that the sadder the character’s life, the more depth and intensity the character attains, which I don’t understand. Characters who have tragic family lives are more loved, more sympathised with, the reason why authors normally write such families.
However, I’d love to see the portrayal of normal, happy family lives.
I’m going to steer clear of topics like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey in here, because more or less we all know how those books portray harmful relationships in a ‘romantic’ light. Now, I always feel there are two types in which authors portray harmful/incorrect relationships in YA books.
- By portraying seventeen year-olds falling into insta-love and then suddenly realizing that ‘they’re meant to be’. It’s harmful because it’s unreal. I just graduated high school and I don’t know if things happened differently fifty years ago, but now, in the present time, falling into soulmate-ish, deep, ‘movie-love’ and acting like it is very, very, very unrealistic. Of course, love exists. But amplifying everything to an insane level is harmful because it heightens young girls’expectations. An easy example would be when I was young, I’d read all these YA fantasy novels where the hero would vow to be ready to give his life away for his heroine and I’d construe that as a necessity of a ‘romantic’ relationship. Which, I can see now is harmful to have such notions.
- So many harmful actions are portrayed as romantic in YA novels. And at an young age, what you read becomes the norm and if you read harmful things, you’ll probably expect those things to be normal. Which, exactly is why YA needs to portray healthy romantic relationships.
YA needs to portray better friendships, period.
- Female-female friendships – because not all girls are bitches to each other. There is a suprisingly huge lack of friendships between girls which are happy, healthy and congenial. I feel that there are way too many YA books where the author portrays the main female character to be ‘special’ and ‘better than the other girls which surrounds her’ and thus she has no real girl friends. That needs to change big time.
- Male-female friendships – Most YA books portray male-female relationships as romantic, which really pisses me off. I would love to see some platonic male-female relationships, mainly because they very much exist and they’re fun to read about.
So that was it! I really hope YA improves on its portrayal of all these relationships because it is important and realistic.