Sex and YA Books
So, I originally set out to write a YA novel. I knew that The Storyteller’s Throne would be centered around the time in our lives between the teen years and the beginning of being an adult and I figured the book itself would be geared toward people around that age and also those who were parents of kids around that age range.
Turns out, as I wrote the book, more adult themes came into play.
Themes like consensual sex, suicide, sexual abuse …
These themes came out because the book is, at its core, a novel about the heart and what the heart endures throughout childhood.
I originally kept these themes out of the book, but after a short while decided to allow my story to be told as it wanted to be told. I wasn’t sure if this meant that my book could no longer be a YA novel (being a first-time author!), but it was more important to me that it was honest. And I’m sure not everyone’s childhood was filled with these themes, but they are present in childhood for sure.
Well, my book ended up breaking all these themes wide open and questioning the most basic part of our humanity and how we use it in our world. It’s a book that goes beyond YA fiction but I also thought young adults and teenagers might relate to it as well.
So, after I finished my book, I was deciding exactly who would enjoy the book and I got lost in these forums on what is and isn’t appropriate for YA novels. (I also found a completely new genre of book I didn’t know existed, called NA; New Adult for people 18-25)
“New Adult”, meanwhile, features college- rather than school-aged characters and plotlines; ostensibly the next age-category up from YA. As Non Pratt put it pithily at YALC, however, it can frequently be categorised as “YA with sexytimes”, especially in the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey and its student protagonist, Anastasia Steele. Many NA books focus unashamedly on sex, blurring the boundary between romance and erotica – but some do explore the challenges and uncertainties of leaving home and living independently for the first time. Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, for instance, is a comparatively “clean read”, but delves deeply into the anxieties of Cath, its introverted main character, trying to map out her boundaries in the frightening new context of college.
I found myself in the rabbit hole.
There’s actually a lot of debate on what should and shouldn’t be considered YA, the most controversial of topics being sex.
(Which always amazes me, people would rather their children witness violence in all its forms than a sexual act and/or nudity … this no more apparent than on television.)
I still don’t know if The Storyteller’s Throne could be considered for the YA genre … but my guess is that it’s not exactly a candidate … even though I’m pretty sure teenagers could completely relate to the story.
I guess only time will tell as to whom the themes resonate with the most.