Z is for…Zombies, Angels, Werewolves, And Other Things That Distract from Contemporary YA

Controversial Song of the Day: “Zombie” by The Cranberries

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. 

Taken from bibliogrrrl.com

Zombies, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, angels and demons…where does it all end?! Let’s get one thing straight, we LOVE our paranormal novels…Pam’s a big Cassandra Clare fan (like on stalker status almost) and I love the Shiver series and all, but we are contemporary lovers at heart. And sometimes, only sometimes, we feel like contemporary YA often takes a backseat to the paranormal and dystopian/apocalyptic novels out there. So, we’re ending the A-Z challenge with something that is not necessarily a controversial topic that you find in YA novels. BUT we do think that contemporary novels are often overlooked for several bigger and larger concept books.


We write contemporary novels with real teen voices about problems that teens go through now (not saying that some of the big concept books DON’T have real teens and real teen problems), and we want these books to make a come back! 


Here are a few contemporary novels that we think are shining examples of why contemp books are AMAZING!


* Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


* The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth


* Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


Let us know if we’re wrong, PLEASE! Do you think contemporary novels are just as raved about and praised as the big concept paranormal or dystopian/apocalyptic novels? 

Y is for Yearbook Superlatives: Cliches in YA

Controversial Song of the Day:  “Paper Cliche” by Action Action

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.



Taken from www.ryan-patrick.com
Imagine a world where the jocks and cheerleaders rule the school. Where quiet loners are shoved into lockers at every turn. Where the rank in popularity is apparent by the seating arrangements in the cafeteria.

 

You say this world doesn’t exist anymore? I say you’re right…kind of.
 
No, the cliches from the eighties don’t exist anymore, and I think that the new 21 Jumpstreet movie does a fantastic job of proving this. It isn’t so cool to be–well, cool. The students that go against the grain are in now–the ones that love the environment and want to do well in school.

 
But only in some areas.
 

I’ve worked in public schools for six years, and let me tell you, you can walk into a classroom and notice which students are popular and which are not. It’s not always apparent. The popular kids aren’t wearing letter jackets, and the outcasts aren’t in trench coats or eyeglasses. But that divide is there–it’s just more subtle.

 

Here are some YA novels that take a look at cliques:

How do you all feel about cliches and cliques in YA? Do you think they still exist in real life?

X is for…eXams, AP Classes, and Geeks, Oh My!

Controversial Song of the Day:  “Tested and True” by Secondhand Serenade

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.


Taken from elanorascorner.blogspot.com
First of all, yes–we totally copped out on the letter “X.”
 
With that said, let me tell you something about Quita and me. We both took honor and AP classes in high school; we were both in chorus in middle school; we’d almost cry when we got a “B” on an assignment; our ideas of fun was visiting the guidance office during lunch to look at the college brochures. Were we geeks?
 
Probably.
 

But so are PLENTY of other people in high school. They study for the SATs to get a near perfect score. They play the tuba in band like its running out of style. They run for office in the Student Council Association with the same fervor as a prom queen/king campaign.

 

So where are all the novels about these students? My Project J features a very unconventional leading man. Jonah plays the trumpet, constantly speaks of his love for Harvard University, and tutors his classmates to prepare for the SATs.
 

I have heard plenty a debate about the lack of honor classes mentioned in YA novels, so I scoured the Internet to show some geek pride:

I’ll be honest…it took me a while to conjure up this list. Did I leave any novels out? Also, what are your thoughts on including “smart” or “different” characters in your writing?

*BTW, we by no means think that being smart makes you a “geek.” We just love the word. 🙂

W is for…War

Controversial Song of the Day: “This is War” by 30 Seconds to Mars

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. 

Taken from nas.sagepub.com

War is definitely a topic that teens should read about. Not only to know the history of their country, but also to understand what their peers go through if they are part of the military (several teens are enlisting in the military since they can sign up when they are 17 and due to incentives like the GI Bill) and they are involved in a war. 


Not only do teens need books about war and the military because of their peers, but also because they may be the child of someone who serves in the military and may be sent to war. Pam works with several teens who are in military families and they struggle to adjust to new environments and usually act out when a parent is deployed. Having a novel they can turn to can make them feel a little more comfortable with this part of their life.


A few novels that may help them deal with either being in a military, coping during times of war, or the aftermath of war are:


* Back Home by Julia Keller


* The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen


* Out of the Blue by S.L. Rottman


* Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick


* Soldier X by Don L. Wulffson

Do you think that teens need to read novels where war and the military are front and center? Have you written anything that revolves around wars and/or the military?

V is for…Violence

Controversial Song of the Day: “Violence” by Blink 182


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. 

Taken from coe.int

We’ve discussed violence a few times on this blog thus far. We’ve talked about bullying, hate crimes, teen suicide, murder, guns, and cutting. So, what else could we possibly have to say?? Well, violence as a whole  obviously exists in teens’ lives and therefore, some YA novels often portray this violence. Yet, there are naysayers who do not want their children reading these books because it either has too much fighting, killing, or general gratuitous violent behavior. 


However, let’s not forget that violence can be witnessed just by turning on the news or reading a newspaper or magazine. Some YA books may include violence, but it’s nothing that teens are already witnessing on a daily basis.


Here are a few novels that include violence on a large scale:


* The Hunger Games (trilogy) by Suzanne Collins


* Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler


* Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts


* Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott


Do you have violence in your writing? Do you think too many YA novels have an abundance of violent behavior?

U is for…Unreliable Narrators

Controversial Song of the Day: “Liar” by Henry Rollins Band

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. 

Photo taken from litreactor.com

Unreliable narrators are a rare commodity in novels. Mostly because it’s so hard to get this kind of character right. The writer must create a character that readers will empathize with, even when they are aware that the narrator is not completely honest with them.


Although some don’t enjoy reading novels where the MC is lying to them throughout the entire story, these people DO exist. So, why can’t we write about them? Working in education, we come across teenagers who are compulsive liars. Some of them going as far as telling stories that could harm another person’s reputation. Notice, we said we come across teenagers–not just ONE! Since these people are real, it is only fair that they are represented in novels.


Here are a few books where they are:


Liar by Justine Larbalestier
* The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
* Inexcusable by Chris Lynch
*The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin


Do you get mad when you read a novel with a narrator who fibs a lot? Does your own novel have an unreliable narrator–in a sense, are ALL narrators unreliable?

T is for…Teen Suicide

Controversial Song of the Day:  “Never Too Late” by Three Days Grace

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.


Taken from epicalliance.blogspot.com
Did you know that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15-24, and the 4th for people between the ages of 10-14 (for other teen suicide statistics, please click here)?
 

When I was in high school, a close friend of mine ended her own life after breaking up with her boyfriend. When Quita was in high school, one of her ex-boyfriends also committed suicide. We couldn’t believe it–we didn’t want to believe it. But since we know it can happen to anyone–not just to people on TV–this is a topic near and dear to our hearts.
 
We work with teenagers everyday, and since I’m a counselor, I’m constantly on preventative alert. People joke all the time about how dramatic teens are, but any thoughts of hurting themselves is something I do not joke about. When one of my students was wrestling with the idea of suicide, I recommended a book to him (after alerting his parents and using several other counseling interventions, of course). Here are a few YA titles (or books with teen characters) that deal with teen suicide:

Have you ever written about suicide in any of your novels? What other books would you add to this list?