D is for…Drinking

Controversial Song of the Day: “Drank in my Cup” by Kirko Bangz

For the entire month of April, we’ll be participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Our theme for the month? CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS IN YA. Check out the link above for other awesome blogs participating.

DRINKING. Something that most of us probably indulged in before we were 21–yet, we act surprised to hear that today’s teens are guzzling alcohol like it’s soda.

Did you know…?

*Nearly 72% of students have consumed alcohol by the end of high school; 37% have done so by eighth grade

*56.2% of underage drinkers report that they drank in someone else’s home; 29.6% reported that it occurred in their own home.

*During the past month 26.4 % of teenagers drank alcohol and among them 17.4 % participated in binge drinking

Statistics taken from: http://www.sadd.org/stats.htm

As Pam mentioned in Sunday’s post about addiction, the bad rap that YA gets from critics is largely based on drug use and alcohol consumption. However, YA writers create worlds that teen readers will relate to. Contemporary writers have to produce material that is accurate and reflects the culture that we live in. Unfortunately, as demonstrated by the statistics above, alcohol consumption among teens is normal.

We both work with pre-teens and teenagers and we hear rumors about parties where alcohol was the star. In schools across America, students are getting suspended from bringing alcohol TO the building! It’s happening, people!

So, as writers we keep it real. In our novels, there is drinking. In Pam’s novel Wants, a character’s band plays at a club with a bar where a friendly bartender gives him a break. In her second novel, Project J, her main character gets associated with beer through an awkward keg stand. It’s sad to say…these things happen!

There are several novels where drinking happens (probably most contemporary YA novels to be frank), but here are a few where drinking plays a central role:

*Recovery Road by Blake Nelson

*Party by Tom Leveen

*So, Save Me by Kim Mitchell

*Freaked by J.T. Dutton

What do you all think about drinking in YA? Is it necessary or is it something that can be left out? Speaking of being “left out”…got any books to add to our list?


8 thoughts on “D is for…Drinking

  1. Wow I had no idea about the statistics of drinking. I guess I was very sheltered because I didn't start drinking until 14 (that was once!) and then barely had a drink even at 21. I have had friends drop me as a friend because I had NO interest in getting drunk. (Clearly they weren't good friends) I'm in the minority I think because I just find drinking doesn't appeal to me as much as to others. I like going to the movies and going out to eat rather than going to a party and getting drunk. I personally don't think it can left out. Unless you do it tastefully, like see my post on D for today – in the DUFF Keplinger doesn't use drinking it all but still uses sex ( a taboo in writing for YAs too). I know in my Project VD, I have a ton of drinking and smoking cigarettes and sexual activity but thats because it was necessary for the characters to do that… I also think it depends on your novel as well.

  2. I don't think it can be left out. There are plenty of characters/ books that don't have drinking in them just like there are teens who don't drink but I think that books with drinking in them show an accurate picture of what life is like for teens.

  3. The whole issue of censorship in YA writing makes me so sad – a good writer is never going to "glorify" the things teens struggle with. It's the same thing with the argument for abstinence-only education or the whole ridiculous thing in Tennessee over the "Don't Say Gay" law that would have made TALKING about homosexuality illegal in schools (as if *knowing gay people exist* is somehow going to *infect* children) Ostrich behavior has never and will never stop teens from participating in harmful acts. Authors who can write thoughtfully and compassionately about dark or tough topics can do so much to help and inspire teens. I think people forget that for many kids, being a teenager IS a dark experience. It's the same thing with issue around the film "Bully" (to tie into your Letter B) – there's swearing in the film that accurately represents teen experience, but the MPAA refuses to give the film anything less than an R rating because of it, effectively barring the kids who would be most impacted by its message from being able to see it because there's this idea that bad language is "not appropriate." But the whole POINT of the film is that it's these kids' lived experience. *Sigh* Keep on keeping on, guys. You're doing good stuff.

  4. Drinking is everywhere. I think, especially if you're writing a contemporary or urban fantasy novel, if drinking isn't somewhere–it might not be realistic. That's just my pov tho – maybe I'm wrong.

  5. Great comments so far, ladies! I think most of us are on the same page. It's not like we condone underage drinking–but we have to be realistic. Teens are not sheltered today–we certainly won't when I was a teen, either!

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