This is a topic I've been wrestling with in YA for a few weeks now. I am working on my second YA novel HOW LIA MET ANA and my book is well...boring! My main character goes from being an uninspired tomboy to having an eating disorder without much of a personality change. She is not acting like a teenager at all.
How to liven things up? Sex, drugs and some rock and roll, of course! My question for everyone is: how far can we go in YA books in regards to sex and drugs? My main character, Liah, is sixteen and average. She's had boyfriends, she has friends, but is tired of being one-of-the-crowd. She wants to beautiful and special and...wanted. That leads to her eating disorder and also a bit of a wanton attitude when it comes to sex. She fools aound heavily with a guy she just met (an OLDER guy) and is ready to sleep with him becuase he makes her feel good. And because the love of her life has fallen for someone else. Of course, a few twists and turns later, she has the opportunity to seduce the love of her life. Does she or doesn't she? You'll have to wait and see.
The drugs part: Liah starts to rely heaviy on diet pills and becomes an addict...until a very real tragedy stares her in the face and she needs to make a decision.
My questions for you writers and you readers is this:
- Is it acceptable for teen characters to have on-screen sex in novels when the target audience is ages 13-15? Or maybe even 12-14? I've read books where it's something like. "He kissed her, lowered her to the bed....The next morning, he was gone.", but I've never read any on-screen stuff. I feel like the on-screen part is necessary in my books because of all the regrets my main character is having during and after some of the acts.
-Is diet pill abuse kosher?
I have never been one of the "rule following" girls, but I don't know what is allowed in 2007 and what isn't. As far as I remeber from my YA days, there wasn't any actual sex or drug use in books, nor was there any drug use. In today's day, with GOSSIP GIRL and the ALIST, I know there is.
I would love to get your thoughts on this...
Currently, I'm reading DAUGHTER OF FORTUNE by Isabelle Allende and THE WARRIOR TRAINER by Gerri Russell.
HOW TO SALSA IN A SARI - January 2008 Kimani Tru