Monday, April 4, 2011

Love, Romance, and Sex in YA Novels

Teens are full of passion (and hormones). And we know teens have sex in real life. But is there a responsibility as a YA writer to show the harsh realities, or to show that true love doesn't need sex right away?

I'm torn on this subject. On one hand, I know there are teens out there dealing with these issues who might find some comfort in reading about them. On the other, I would be a tad weirded out as a parent if my kid picked up a YA book with explicit sex in it.

What do you think? I'd especially love to hear from parents, but I'm curious what everyone has to say!


K. Marie Criddle said...

I'm totally torn on this one as well. Speaking from my own personal writing taste, most of the actual sex is either left out of YA or just thinly implied. However, when I read such a scene and it adds to the story rather than just being a gratuitously written flesh-fest, I welcome it gladly. Just because it's not a frequently touched upon point in my own writing doesn't mean others can't do it with class and taste.

On the third hand, I'm with you: if my kiddo picked up a YA book with explicit sex in it, whether or not it adds to the story, I think I might be a little more protective. I guess that's where the admonition to "read things with your kids" comes into play. I hope I'm the type of mom that's able to read whatever her teens are reading and encourages discussion. Oh man, I'm gonna be a nerdy mom, aren't I? "Bye, kids!! Don't forget, we're discussing Hunger Games when you get home!!"

Pam Harris said...

My theory is simple: many teens have (or just think) about sex, so why not write about it?

Adam Heine said...

As a reader, I think YA needs both: characters having sex, and characters abstaining. Because that's what the world is like, and it's silly to pretend one or the other doesn't (or shouldn't) happen.

As an author, I don't really want to write about sex. Doesn't mean I won't, just means I have avoided it so far.

As a parent, I'm with K. Marie. I'd want to be protective. I hope that I'd read things with them and discuss. I fear...

Well, when it comes to my kids, I fear pretty much everything.

Keriann Greaney Martin said...

I agree with Adam that you should have both. But, I would probably wouldn't describe the characters having sex in graphic detail. Maybe just the lead up and then glaze over the nitty gritty details. Heck, I remember reading some graphic stuff in high school English!

I liked that scene in your last MS when the characters didn't go all the way, but the lead-up was there. You did a great job describing their desire and it definitely felt realistic. :)