For some reason, I've been coming across a lot of threads and posts on a certain message board that I frequent regarding the topic of violence, cursing and sex in YA literature. I find myself getting very frustrated and feel my blood begin to boil when anyone makes such blatant comments insinuating that those things should NOT exist in YA literature. References to the YA audience being "children" and that writers of YA must consider that parents are the ones who are buying these books for our kids makes me want to give myself a bikini wax with a pair of tweezers! It makes me want to grab a hand saw and cut the top of my skull off so I can retrieve my brains, throw them on the floor and stomp on them until--Oh. I'm sorry. Was that too violent?
Oh, well. Perhaps you'd be more interested in someone else's bubblegum blog post full of flowers and rainbows and pixy dust.
This is how I roll. This is how I write. And believe it or not...THERE IS AN AUDIENCE WHO DESIRES AND CRAVES THE EDGIER SIDE OF YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE. You have no interest in writing material with sex, violence, drugs, cursing and the such? Fine. Don't write it. You don't want to READ books that contain this subject matter? Great. Don't read it. But to tell people that these topics don't belong in the entire genre of YA is nothing more than your very own conservative opinion and taste of what you like and dislike w/in the genre (or perhaps any genre). I don't go around telling other YA writers that they HAVE to have sex or underage drinking or drugs or homosexual activity or fighting or cursing or some combination of them in order to relate to their audience. There is an audience for all that is out there. Yes, there are teens out there who might not curse (at least not in front of their elders ;-)) and who wait until they are married to have sex and would never even consider trying a cigarette--let alone drugs, who would never drink until they are legal, and who view homosexuality as a sin (what. ever.), but this is not the reality of ALL teens. EVERYONE enjoys reading books that they can connect to and many of the "taboo" topics happen to be things that MANY teens deal with and live.
Any and all of these taboo topics can work if they are done properly and not written gratuitously. If I have cursing in one of my books, its' because it works in that scene. It works for that character and gives that character believability. In my novel Breaking Out, I have characters who run the gamut regarding foul language. Libby HATES foul language. She never uses it and it makes her cringe when kids around her use it. Sam curses occassionally, and Josh will sometimes curse, but he usually does it in Spanish when he's having a Ricky Ricardo (from I Love Lucy) moment. Then you meet KK who is a high school drop out, pretty much from the streets and lives with his older brother where the two of them deal in some highly illegal business. Anyone who has met KK (aka my many beta readers--love you all!) has told me that the language that comes out of his mouth is very fitting to his characters. I questioned my beta readers if it was too much and all of them said "no way, it fits his character." In fact, one of my beta readers suggested I stick a few more in. haha. She was only kidding. I think... Not only that, I was told by several of my beta readers that KK is one of the best secondary characters they've come across. Obviously his horrendous foul mouth was easily overlooked because it completely fit his character.
Anyway, the point to my post is that these "taboo" topics in YA are here to stay. You don't have to read it or write it, but you NEED TO GET OVER IT. If you don't want to read it and it's not your cup of tea, lucky for you there are people who LOVE to write the kinds of books that have none of the things you loath. And by all means, if you like to write those kinds of books...ALL THE POWER TO YOU. Write it. And guess what? I may even pick it up, read and probably enjoy it. What can I say? I have an eclectic taste. Likewise, for those of you who love a good violent oriented, foul mouth filled, sexing it up, drugged out book, there will always be someone ready to write what you long for.
Don't judge. Freedom of choice. Free will. To each his own. But for goodness sake...STFU about what "belongs" and "doesn't belong" in the genre of YA. I live on the edge. I read on the edge. I write on the edge. You don't like the edge? What can I say?
Move the %&#%*$^#@ back! Personally, I like it here.