I love YA. I love the fast-pacing, the quick banter, the important messages, the self-discovery, the adventure. But with no much to love about YA, there are some things I wish YA had more of…
People with food allergies/intolerances
I’ve had friends with severe food allergies. I myself have a large list of foods I can’t eat without breaking out in hives. I’m tired of seeing characters who can eat whatever the hell they want. Or even worse, seeing a the one lone character with a food allergy who then dies because of it. No. JUST NO. I love the diversity kick everyone has been on lately, but it needs to extend even further.
People with STIs
1 in 4 teens contract an STI EVERY YEAR. And no one is talking about it (besides the super anti-premarital sex people). I’ve only ever read one book where a character got an STI and that was from r*pe. Most teens get these from consensual sex. YA books should discuss safe sex and STIs. Television shows like How To Get Away With Murder show the severity of STIs, the stigma that goes along with it, and still treats is characters with respect. That’s what I want in YA books. Talk about it. Most people don’t hear about these things outside of health class because it’s taboo to talk about. YA can open the floor for all teens to feel accepted.
People who fail. Repeatedly.
I want to read a book where the MC constantly makes mistakes and doubts themselves. I don’t want to read about the same mistake the MC makes over and over again. I want them to fail and then learn from it. Failure is apart of life, it’s who you are after you make a mistake that defines you.
People with disabilities portrayed correctly.
Basically, if it’s not #ownvoices then do your research. Harmful rep is worse than no rep. People want to see themselves represented, but not if it’s harmful. Don’t make things worse. Hire sensitivity readers, but do your research before hand. These people are risking their own mental health to try to prevent harmful material from reaching others. Treat these readers with respect.
POCs in fantasy/science fiction.
Sabaa Tahir, Malinda Lo, and Marie Lu do a great job of this, but I WANT MORE. I love fantasy, and I’m tired of seeing only white/ambiguously described MCs. There is no reason to have so many white people in fantasy books. Even worse, I keep seeing people described as tan, chestnut, etc. skin as the slaves in these books and the lighter skins tones as the masters. Yuck.
People start reading YA books at a variety of ages. I know I started reading YA books around the age of eight. They were my first exposure to mature topics including drinking, sex, dating etc. YA books were my first exposure to non-familial relationships. So even though my parents have a healthy relationship, I thought that guys treating girls like dirt, no meaning yes, stalking, etc. was all normal in a teen relationship. My eight year old brain though that stuff was normal. It’s not. YA needs more healthy relationships.
LGBTQ folks. Especially minorities within these groups.
This is something I’ve been seeing more and more lately and it’s great. But I want to see the minority LGBTQ folks too. I want to see nonbinary folks and asexual and aromantic folks too. I want them to be cannon. I want it to be explicit. Don’t queerbait. Don’t make me guess. Don’t come out after the book was released and say Oh, well [insert character’s name here] was actually [insert sexuality/gender identity here] the whole time. Um, bitch please. So many teens need to see that their feelings are valid. Don’t make them guess. Give them representation.
WHY DOES NO ONE WORRY ABOUT TAMPONS!?!?! Oh, it’s the apocalypse and I’m on the run, let me grab my cellphone even though there is NO CELL SERVICE and a can of tuna but leave behind my tampons AND toilet paper. Uh, yeah, no. I can count on one hand the amount of times periods are mentioned in YA books. Or, actually, just books in general. I’ll read about teens leave to go trek a few months in the forest and not mention tampons, pads, rags, leaves, etc. Normalize this shit. People bleed.
Seriously. Where the fuck were these parties when I was in school!?!?! Okay, lots of teens had small gatherings with friends and smoked weed and/or broke into their parents’ liquor cabinet, but I never heard nor saw any wild ragers that are always in teen books. Literally. Where!?! Even my friends from other Unis are all like Uh, no. We didn’t have those either… Like, there are other things to do in high school than party. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being picky.
What are some things you wish YA had more of?