Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Parent Problem?

Everyone's reacting to this lately: The Parent Problem in Young Adult Lit. The author, who also serves as the children's book editor of the Times, seems to be decrying the rise of less-than-perfect parents. Not just those problem-novel staples of alcoholics, abusers, and abandoners, but also flat-out hapless: physically present, mentally checked out. These parents, she seems to say, aren't realistic and certainly are lesser characters than the parents in YA lit of her youth.

The line that I and fifty-seven other bloggers are pointing to is
the father in “Once Was Lost” becomes somehow peripheral, his problems more muted and less interesting than his teenage daughter’s.
And that's a problem in a YA novel . . . why?

She traces this change to the change in expectations over the past decades, but I think she's focusing on the wrong end of the stick here. By definition, the YA novel is about teenagers. This is an age that routinely thinks all adults couldn't put their pants on without the respective legs being clearly labeled. This is also an age where kids are finding out that their superhero parents are, well, not. That they have problems they grapple with, just like the kids.

What do you think?

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I'm with you. Particularly in books where the young adult protagonists are off having hair-raising adventures. I mean they couldn't have adventures and still get home for curfew, could they?