What I Don’t See in YA Novels

We all know the common themes in YA novels. We think and talk about these repeating ideas. What about the things we don’t see?! We focus so much on what we do see that the things we don’t see are never brought up. I’m pretty sure you’ve thought about this before.

Here are some things that happen in real life that do not usually come up in YA:

  • Girls who are taller than guys / girls dating guys shorter than them.

Other than the exception of Anna and the French Kiss I have not read a book where the girl is taller than the guy. C’mon people! There are plenty of tall females out there! I doubt every single couple has a taller guy.

  • Girls dating guys younger than them.

In Past Midnight the protagonist likes a guy in a grade younger than her but she wishes that he was at least in her grade. What’s wrong with dating girls dating younger guys? I see it. It happens.

  • Guys and girls who are happy being single.

I know girls and guys that don’t want a relationship at the moment. I also have a few friends that are so happy not having a boyfriend anymore. They are happy being single. Why do most characters want boyfriends/girlfriends?!

  • Girls with short hair.

What’s up with every single girl having ‘long and flowy gorgeous hair.’ Yeah. Half of my girl friends have short hair. Seriously.

  • Girls who like other girls.

I’ve read books with guys that are gay. What about girls? Are girls not also homosexual? So far the only character that I’ve read where a girl was dating another girl was If I Stay and the character wasn’t the protagonist. She was actually only mentioned here and there.

Do you guys agree with me?! Any other things you don’t see in YA?


Symbolism in YA? [Edit]

On Monday I had a Penguin Publishing meeting. My friends (the Insiders) and I met Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay. We got on the topic of symbolism because us teens just had to know the truth about it.

In school our English teachers dissect every little part of the novel we’re reading. Apparently classics are just bursting with symbolism and we need to look deeper into the scenes, characters, and diction to understand the full meaning of it. The question is: Is there symbolism in YA novels?!

There are enough instances where certain object or names could be more than what it perceives to be. I know I have read a book and thought whether –insert thing here- had more meaning than I thought it did.  Teachers drill it into our heads that there is symbolism in almost everything and if you analyze, you’ll understand and see the true meaning.

We asked Gayle Forman and Julie Strauss-Gabel (an editor from Penguin) this question. Gayle Forman laughed and proceeded to tell us her story about how people try and decipher why Mia and Adam are named what they are. Some people have creatively come up with an idea that Mia stands for Missing in Action. Gayle told us that when most authors choose a name, they just choose it to choose (so Mia and Adam are not named for any reason). Gayle also continued to say “And even if there is [symbolism] then we don’t know that we are putting it in!”

I had misunderstood our meeting, so my first post talked about how there wasn’t much symbolism in YA. Gayle Forman commented on my original post and told me there is plenty of symbolism in YA. “My point was that a lot of times, the symbolism that goes into books happens automatically, through telling of story, not because an author is trying to be heavy-handed and give you lots of English homework.” Well, I guess it’s good that I know there really is meaning behind something if I think there is.

In the end, a few parts of the novel -like names -are not trying to symbolize anything. As for the most part, YA has as much symbolism as any other novel.

I don’t know about you guys, but I am actually proud of myself when I’m able to analyze something in a novel I’m reading for fun. Thoughts?! Leave them below!

For Real (Part 3)

The question is: Are all of the common themes/stereotypes real?! Do they really occur in an average high school?! Well I am here to tell you the realities of certain situations. Believe me; I know enough about high school to tell you if it’s real or not. (I’m a sophomore if you were wondering).

Check out Part 1 here.

Check out Part 2 here.

  • Love triangles

This topic if iffy. Why? One: Love triangles aren’t really triangles. They’re lines. It’s usually one girl likes two boys. A true triangle is that a girl likes a guy but that guy likes a guy. Two: Love triangles/lines happen to an extent. Sometimes it’s where two girls like the same guy or where two guys like the same girl. I know it happens but I have never had to witness it firsthand. Love triangles are also not as intense as they are in books. They are more exaggerated in fiction.

  • Best Friends forever

There is usually the guy or girl best friend that has been friends with the protagonist since pre-school/kindergarten/etc. This one is true. I’ve known people my whole life that I’m best friends with. What also tends to happen is that people grow out of each other and no longer speak. It is more likely to know people your whole life who you don’t talk to than to be best friends with.

  • Leaving without permission

My friends and I were talking and this comes up a lot in YA books. It is where the protagonist will leave school, home, etc. without telling anyone (parents, friends, teachers, etc). Sometimes they get in trouble and other times they don’t. It depends on what your situation at home is, but it’s possible to leave your house without having to tell anyone. But if you’re at school or with your friend’s people will give you a hard time for just leaving. I know my friends hound me about my whereabouts. So this one is real to an extent…

Thoughts?! Leave your comments below!

For Real (Part 2)

The question is: Are all of the common themes/stereotypes real?! Do they really occur in an average high school?! Well I am here to tell you the realities of certain situations. Believe me; I know enough about high school to tell you if it’s real or not. (I’m a sophomore if you were wondering).

Check out Part 1 here.

  • Parents Randomly Not Caring / Not Being There Ever

In a ton of books I read, parents are never there or they never care. Tell me how that works. This one I can tell is not true at all. Yes, there are few parents out there that don’t keep track of their children. Even so, they guess what’s going on with their kids or catch their kids doing something. Yes, parents don’t know everything that’s happening in our lives. Yes, they aren’t on top of everything. But more than 50% of parents care about their kids and are there for you. Personally, I don’t know anyone that has both parents/guardians just not there for them.

  • Not Having a Cell Phone

Okay, I have to admit that a lot of newer characters have phones now. Seriously though, when something happens all the phones/communication devices just disappear. Sorry, but now four year olds have phones. Also, most teens don’t go places without phones so it’s unusual for characters to forget their phone. I do have to say that I have a friend who doesn’t have a phone so once in a while you do have that. I don’t want to be mean but this one is a little BS-ish.

  • Girls thinking they are ugly, fat, etc.

This one kills me. Every since Karen Kincy (author of Other) put up her post I cannot stop thinking about how a ton of YA girls think they aren’t pretty, or that they’re fat, or that no one likes them. The reason is for us girls to empathize with the character. But by doing so, we think the same thing of ourselves. Yes, a ton of girls they aren’t pretty. Yes, a ton of girls think they need to lose weight. But that doesn’t mean all of us do. For the most part, this theme is half true in the real world. It makes me sad, but I guess it’s not my place to say since I’m one of those girls that agrees/empathizes with those characters.

Thoughts?! Also leave some other reoccuring themes you’re getting sick of !

What is with ALL YA guy characters being good-looking?

Am I the only one who has thought of this?! Yes? No? Well, I bet you have thought the exact same thing as I have. I’ve thought about it. My friends have thought about it. Gosh, if I had a dog my dog would probably have thought about it. Let’s face, this topic isn’t possible to be non-thinkable.

Well. EVERY SINGLE MAIN GUY IN A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL IS GOOD-LOOKING. Cute. Hot. Gorgeous. Sexy. Handsome. Good-looking. If it’s a synonym to the word ‘attractive’ it has been used to describe guys in books. Because there just happens to be attractive guys hitting on the main girl all the time. I know because this happens to every girl out there (I really do hope you note my sarcasm).

Hate to break it to everyone, but that does not happen in real life. But at the same time, it does.

What?! Alison, what are you talking about?

In truth, every single guy in a book is good-looking because they are…from that character’s POV. It doesn’t matter if that book is in first, second, or third person. If your main character is female and she is attracted to guys, then she is going to think the guy she is attracted too is good-looking. Get all that?

Every person sees a different person in a way no one else does. So if the girl thinks the guy is hot, then we’re all going to assume he is hot because we side with the character. The way said guy is described also makes him attractive. If books were played out like movies I can guarantee that not everyone will think that guy is attractive. We fall in love with the character’s feelings towards that guy.

Hence, we only think the male character is attractive because we are polluted by the main female’s view. Darn you, main female! It’s all good though since having cute guys is always a plus 😉

For Real?! (Part I)

If you read YA novels then you are probably familiar with the repeating themes such as the hot bad boy, the new girl in school or the evil cheerleader. Yes, they are overused. Yes, it does get a bit boring. But you have to admit that you still love it…well, most of the time.

The question is: Are all of the common themes/stereotypes real?! Do they really occur in an average high school?! Well I am here to tell you the realities of certain situations. Believe me; I know enough about high school to tell you if it’s real or not. (I’m a sophomore if you were wondering).

This post is going to be split up into a few different posts. The more themes/stereotypes I remember, the more posts about this will be put up.  If you didn’t realize already, this post is Part I.

  • That one popular guy/girl that everyone loves.

This one is true. My grade has this guy everyone loves. Okay, not loves, but no one hates him. That’s saying something because every person in school has people that love or hates him/her. A few of my friends follow my blog and they probably know who I’m talking about. This guy I’m talking about is good-looking and he participates in a ton of sports. Not only that, but he’s a good kid. He gets good grades and doesn’t smoke. I have friends that go to other schools and have those popular kids also. So I’m thinking this theme is true for most schools.

  • Bitchy cheerleaders

Why is it that 99.99% of cheerleaders get the bad reputation?! Oh right, it’s because they really are that mean. I’m not trying to offend cheerleaders, but the ones in my school are pretty mean. They are nasty people. Most of them are also whores. One of my friends is a varsity cheerleader. But she’s not your typical cheerleader because she’s also part of the anime club and isn’t small and super-skinny. I think she is one of the nicest, funniest people you’ll ever meet. She loves to cheer, but most of the girls on the school team dislike her. It’s because she is different. This stereotype isn’t 100% true, but it tends to be.

  • Dating someone out of your ‘social league.’

What’s with all of the books where the ‘goth’ boy dates the cheerleader, or the hot jock dates the invisible girl?! Hate to burst your bubble people, but that does not happen in real life. Yeah, all the teens in school talk to each other but they usually never go out with someone not in their social group. I know, I know, we all fantasize about that happening. When this does actually happen in real life I will applaud. But for now I’m stuck with fiction.

Thoughts?! I wrote this post while I was sick, so I’m sorry if it’s worded weirdly. Also leave some other reoccuring themes you’re getting sick of !