Hey everyone! I hope you guys are all doing well. ❤ My blogging schedule is as unpredictable as ever, but I’m back today with another post; this time with a list of things I wish I could see more in the books I read. In this case, it would be YA, but honestly, no matter what the intended audience is, we should have more of these things. YA books are great, believe me, they are. Are they perfect? No, of course not. Every book has its set of problems. However, there are things that totally deserve more attention and should totally appear more in books, which is what I want to discuss today. Let’s do this.
1. Girl + Girl Friendships.
(Aka fromances.* Just fyi.) Beth’s wonderful post talking about girl on girl hate in YA books inspired this one–it’s something that was always in the back of my mind, but reading this post made me realize how little female friendships there are in YA fiction. We have our bromances, which are AMAZING, but the fact that I cannot think of many examples of YA books with strong female friendships is SO problematic. So many of YA’s readers are female, and no matter what the age, every single one of them deserves to recognize and relate, and fall in love with a strong female friendship because that is part of our lives. Female friendships exist, and are so, so important. They are a HUGE part of my own life–and I will bet yours as well–and it makes me so sad that I don’t see many books reflecting that in the lives of their characters. Female friendships (fromances!!) can be one of the strongest bonds ever, just as much as the bromances or the romantic ships. They are one of the most prevalent relationships in the lives of girls everywhere, so why are the majority of our YA books lacking this friendship in the characters’ life?
*Hey, there are bromances, why can’t there be fromances? THIS IS NOW A THING. Do not judge.
2. Male-female friendships.
Continuing on the theme of friendships, I would totally love to see more male-female friendships. I recently read The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, featuring an AMAZING, completely platonic, strong friendship between Sal, the main character, and his best friend, Sam. Their friendship was SO sweet and I loved it so much–but I’ll save that for the upcoming review. Point is: yes, there are definitely boy-girl friendships already that are great. But it only goes on to show that they should totally be in more books as well, because hey! News flash: boys and girls can be just friends. Everyone knows this. It’s always great to see a developed, boy-girl friendship in books to chip away at the idea that boys and girls can only be interested in each other romantically. And honestly, what harm is there melting a reader’s heart with a beautiful friendship? Friendships, in general, are awesome, and we totally need more of them.
This might be affected by the fact that I am very very hungry right now. But nonetheless!! FOOD. Oh my gosh. So important, guys. I am always mildly shocked in the back of my mind when I read a book, and the characters go so long without food. No mention of it, nothing. There are books who do, definitely (and they understand me on a spiritual level*), but it is something that could totally be added to more books. See, food makes a book a) more realistic, b) more relatable c) more eat-able (book talks about food = book becomes said food?? Bet that’s how it works.) and d) overall more interesting because FOOD. I mean, I probably wouldn’t remember any of the descriptions of food past two seconds, but it’s in the moment, you know?
Ugh, this isn’t helping my hunger at all. I need to go restock my snack storage. Brb.
4. All the family.
CAN WE HAVE MORE FAMILY PLEASE? Thankfully I’m not dying of deprivation (yet) thanks to the select few wonderful books that have amazing moms and dads and siblings. ❤ Seriously, those books are actually the best and especially special because there are such few healthy familial relationships in YA, which is why they’re on this list. A healthy father-child bond or mother-child bond, or parents-child bond can be so impactful and so wonderful to read about. Is having parents who are present, caring, concerned and responsible too much to ask for? It really shouldn’t be. I get that, in many circumstances, absentee parents are a device for sympathy, plot, development, and who knows what else, but that does not mean we can’t have books with realistic and healthy portrayals of family because that is equally important in our lives and totally deserves more rep.
5. Little to no romance.
I’m aware of the fact that there ARE in fact many books without romance, don’t worry. I mean, I could list a few, definitely not as many as I would like, though. Because as much as I love romance in YA books (Ships yay), sometimes it’s nice to have books without, seeing how a) it gives us a break between all the emotional havoc our hearts go through the other 99% of the time, b) shows that romance isn’t everything! Because it really isn’t. See above friendships and family. ❤ and c) who has time for romance, anyway? Jk. But I definitely wouldn’t mind reading more books with little to no romance! Because hey, it’s all a part of life. Realistically, a lot of people don’t meet their one and only love in high school anyway aha. 😛
6. Slow-burn romance.
Does it make sense that I put books with no romance and books with slow-burn romance? Shhhhhhh, of course it does. Just as much as no romance books are important, I doubt YA fiction is going to kill off romance easily, which, I don’t mind because there are some really great books out there with them! Honestly, there is an endless array of books to choose in the YA romance area. But, specifically, I love slow-burns. Fantasy novels are usually quite good at this, and their romance doesn’t completely overwhelm the story, which is great for readers not looking only for romance. It would be great for more contemporary novels to have a developed and slow-burn romance too! Insta-love, for example, is not something I’m a fan of in books, which seems to appear a lot, which is why I’m advocating for more developed romances because those are so great to read, and offer a lot more to the characters and plot-wise in my opinion.
This is probably the one most everyone will agree on, which is great because diversity is so important. Whether it be featuring POCs, people of the LQBT+ community, people suffering from mental illness, people with disabilities, people of different religions, etc. There are so many different people around the world–and, not just cis, white people featured in so many YA books. I have nothing against those characters, but it is a disservice to the beauty of this world, and the many wonderful, wonderful people who don’t get that much representation in the books they read. We aren’t all the same, and getting those books with characters who are similar to you can be so empowering. However, I firmly believe that if you are going to include diverse characters in a book, please, please, you have a responsibility to do it right. YA fiction, is, of course, fiction, but when it comes to diversity and representation, whether it be a race of people, or people with disabilities, or the LGBT+ community, or a culture, or anything, it’s more offensive and disrespectful to misrepresent them, including them in books but having them reduced to clichés, stereotypes. Which, is another reason why the #ownvoices movement is so great. Diversity, fortunately, is something that is being publicized more than ever, which means there are TONS of amazing diverse books out there (YAY), but I will forever be an advocate for more diverse books because it’s something that should be the norm, as well as celebrated. Why do I want–need–more (accurately represented) diverse books? For all the people who deserve to see themselves represented. For everyone so they can be educated on all the different people of the world. For everyone because they are important. Case in point: We all need diverse books. We will never not need more of them. ❤
WOW that last paragraph was longer than I expected. There is so much to say on the topic! But anyway. Friendships, diversity, family, food, these are all things I adore to see in books, things that are SO important to me and so passionate about. Can we please have more of them in YA?! Pretty please??
a deprived bookworm
P.S. Until my plea is answered, let’s discuss! Don’t leave me hanging here, I spent a lot of time on this. 😛 Which of these do you want to see more of? What do you think about the whole diversity debacle? Any other things you want to see in YA books? ❤