Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much I hated young adult books when I was a young adult. It always bothered me that there were anorexia-focussed books and boyfriend-focussed books and teen pregnancy-focussed books but none that captured the reality of being a teen.
Reality, as in, one friend has anorexia and another is getting beaten up by her no-good boyfriend and another’s boyfriend is drunk all the time and another friend thinks she’s pregnant but then the waitress she knows gets her a pregnancy test and it turns out she’s not, and the two guys on steroids are fighting at the house party while another friend gets thrown through the window and someone slipped acid in another friend’s drink and now she thinks the tree roots are attacking her and you have somehow managed to get yourself stranded at the gravel pits with only a girl you vaguely know and her drunk boyfriend who offers you a ride home and that doesn’t seem like the best option and your dad did give that speech about how you can always call, no questions asked, but there’s a distinct lack of phones at the gravel pit so you may as well take the ride, but get dropped off at a different friend’s house instead of your own house and then get to watch her throw up in her kitchen sink.
That’s the kind of book I pledged I would write. One that really reflected small-town teen life.
The problem: it’s impossible. You can’t fit even a single day of teen angst into a young adult novel. The readers would all end up as confused and lost as they were at 15 in real life.
Still, I feel as if I’m betraying my young adult self by not making the attempt…