Reading another not so good book reminds me of everything I’m getting tired of in YA fiction. I’m tired of the first person voice that empowers teens and puts them in charge, even in situations where they are floundering. Of course this voice helps take us inside a situation but, sometimes we need to see situations in a voice that gives a wider, more honest perspective of resources that are available in different situations. A major flaw of this first person voice is that parents and other adults don’t stand a chance despite their wisdom or years of experience.
I’m tired of YA books that stereotype teens of color and continually cast them as victims. Too often, whether the teen be Asian or Middle Eastern they are first or second generation with immigrant issues or retelling traditional stories. Blacks and Latino/as are urban dwellers with violent anger issues and Natives are silently stereotyped, too. No doubt we need to meet students where they are and validate their existence, however not all teens of any one ethnic group have the exact same experience. Even those who live marginalized lives deserve to see other possibilities for themselves and White readers need to see people of color in equitable situations. Because, in real life we do exist in the same playing field.
Why don’t our kids get to be humorous? Why are mysteries limited to gangs and murder? Why can’t there be more books that stimulate our childrens’ imaginations and let them see their place in the larger world, not just in a preconceived corner?
What I’ve seen and read so far this year makes me look forward to
Slice of cherry by Dia Reeves
Jazz in Love by Neesha Meminger
Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith
How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen (MG)
The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang (MG)
Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
What are you looking forward to in YA lit?