Favorite Book Beginnings and Endings—Teens Can Write, Too! Blog Chain

Well, after once again neglecting my poor blog, I’m back to participate in another “Teens Can Write, Too!” blog chain. For those readers unaware of TCWT, it’s essentially a giant entity of awesomeness in the form of a blog for … Continue reading

Books I’d Like to See—Teens Can Write, Too! Blog Chain

So this is my first time participating in the monthly Teens Can Write, Too! Blog Chain. I’ve followed this blog chain for a long time, but I’ve never actually written a post for it, because I’m lame like that. But now I’m finally participating, because this prompt is just too good to pass up. For the month of May, the prompt is:

What kinds of published books would you like to see more of?

1. More diverse books that aren’t “issue books”

A couple weeks ago, twitter was taken over by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks project. And it was very much needed and entirely inspiring and really freakin’ awesome. But when people started throwing around suggestions about diverse books, the titles seemed to have a similar theme–nearly all of them were “issue books” that focus on really serious problems in life. Homophobia, racism, religious intolerance, ect.

There’s nothing wrong with issue books. Actually, I love those types of books and feel they’re very much a necessary part of the YA genre. But when every single diverse book is an issue book, it suggests that being diverse is an issue. Which it’s not. Ignorant and intolerant people are the issue, not the diverse people themselves. So I’d like to see fewer books with Diverse Main Characters and more books with Main Characters in Cute or Mysterious or Magical Plots Who Just-So-Happen to be Diverse in Some Way or Another.

Let’s see a Frankenstein retelling with a snarky Asian MC who is always getting her geeky best friend in trouble. Or a Contemporary novel set in France, where a bi girl gets lost from her tour group and stumbles into a mystery involving ancient catacombs. Basically, I want books that incorporate diversity, but aren’t strictly about diversity.

2. More books that feature sick protags who don’t whine 24/7 and/or then die.

Okay, let’s just get this straight–there are a ton of teens out there with chronic illnesses. TONS. And yet they’re rarely represented in YA fiction, and when they do make appearances, they’re usually either annoyingly whiny or dead by the end of the book.

Personally, I have some chronic health issues, and I also have friends with serious medical problems. So I can tell you from experience that most of us don’t spend our entire lives crying and grumbling about our illnesses. We live life as normally as possible, and make the best out of bad situations. And a lot of us actually have a sense of humor about our health problems. For example:

  • When someone I know well asks me to do a physical chore–do the dishes, make dinner, ect.–I’ll say something like, “Oh, so you’re going to make the cripple do it?!” And it’s highly sarcastic and stupid, yet somehow funny.
  • I sometimes walk with this really weird gait because my brain hates me, and I sort of look like one of those peg-legged pirates from old films. So my brother now refers to my handicapped parking tag as “The Jolly Roger” and he talks in pirate-speak whenever we’re parking.
  • My brother and his best friend/my surrogate brother have the “Life Alert” commercials memorized. Those are the super cheesy commercials where old people trip over nothing and then start yelling, “Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” My brother can quote those commercials like nobody’s business, and he doesn’t pass up the opportunity whenever I faint.
  • I could go on for a very long time, but I’ll spare you.

So moral of the story is that not all teens with medical problems are whiny. And we’re also not all about to drop dead any second– there are statistically more teens who are chronically ill rather than terminally ill. So it would be extremely logical for authors to feature MCs who are dealing with severe illnesses, but not obsessing over death. And it would also be extremely welcome, because I get tired of having to choose between books with healthy MCs and books with almost-dead MCs.

3. Mythological-inspired fiction not based on Greek myths.

I love Greek myths. Really, I adore them much more than I probably should. But there are also a ton of very interesting, very under-represented ancient cultures out there. Take the Mayans, for example. Their religion was incredibly dark. For example: Suicide was usually considered an honorable death in Maya culture, so they had this goddess named Ixtab who was a patron of suicidal people. Disturbing, right? But also interesting. There’s tons of fodder for novels buried in Maya mythology, and also in the mythologies of many other cultures outside of Greece. (And someone seriously needs to write a novel about Mithraism. I mean, an ancient Roman cult based on Persian beliefs, with underground temples and secret initiation processes? Someone write a book about this NOW.)

4. Novels based in Central/South America.

Like I mentioned in #3, there is so much interesting culture and history in these places, and the geography itself is fascinating. And yet very few YA books are set in Central/South America. It’s such a shame!

5. Non-romantic books.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance. But not everything in life revolves around getting the girl/guy, and I don’t want to be constantly reading about relationships. I’d love to see more books that feature main characters who either aren’t in a relationships, or who are more concerned about life issues rather than boyfriend/girlfriend issues. Also, it’d be great to see more teen MCs who aren’t in a relationship and don’t act like this is a travesty. There are teens out there who don’t date, either because they don’t want to or don’t have the chance to. And that’s okay. Really, it is. So there’s no need for all teen MCs to act like the world is ending whenever they go longer than 2.48 seconds without making out.

So what do you think? Would you read these types of books? And make sure to check out the rest of the other blogs participating in the chain this month! Here’s the full list:

May 5th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

May 6th – http://www.nerdgirlinc.blogspot.com/

May 7th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

May 8th – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

May 9th – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

May 10th – http://randomofalife.blogspot.com/

May 11th – http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/

May 12th – http://www.fidaislaih.blogspot.com/

May 13th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

May 14th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/

May 15th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/

May 16th – http://taratherese.wordpress.com/

May 17th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

May 18th – https://oliviarivers.wordpress.com/

May 19th – http://afoodyportfolio.wordpress.com/

May 20th – http://magicandwriting.wordpress.com/

May 21st – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

May 22nd – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

May 23rd – http://eighthundredninety.blogspot.com/

May 24th – http://www.oyeahwrite.wordpress.com/

May 25th – http://avonsbabbles.wordpress.com/

May 26th – TheUnsimpleMind – [Link to come.]

May 27th – http://thependanttrilogy.wordpress.com/

May 28th – http://www.lilyjenness.blogspot.com/

May 29th – http://sunsandstarsanddreams.wordpress.com/

May 30th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ – (We’ll announce the topic for June’s blog chain!)

More Books on Eating Disorders, Please

Just earlier this year, I was about 30 pounds underweight. I have two medical conditions that affect my stomach in various ways. Basically, I get extremely nauseous every time I eat, and I have a lot of severe stomach pains. As you might guess, it’s incredibly difficult for me to keep on weight. Yesterday I went shopping, and I was able to fit in a size 4 pair of jeans without them slipping off my waist. I almost screamed I was so happy.

 
My BMI (Body Mass Index) is now just barely within the “healthy” range. The fact that I’m no longer a walking skeleton is something I’m so, so grateful for.

 
But other people seem to think differently. The other day, I had someone in my charter school class say to me, “Wow, you’ve gained weight.” I was about to start gushing about how happy I was, when she added, “You know, my friend has this super awesome diet she uses to stay skinny. I could tell you about it, if you want.”

 
My jaw just about dropped to the floor. I don’t remember exactly what I said in reply–I was in total shock. But I have no doubt that I wasn’t very pleasant.

 
The sad truth is, when I was 30 pounds underweight, I was constantly getting told how “beautiful” my figure was. Practically every girl I knew “wanted my figure”. Even adults would gush about how “lucky” I was to be so skinny.

 
It’s not easy to make me mad. But these “compliments” almost put me over the edge. There is nothing beautiful about every single one of your ribs showing. No one should want to feel light-headed constantly. And there’s not anything lucky about throwing up at least twice a day.

 
Unfortunately, we live in a world with unrealistic expectations of beauty. To put it frankly, this has got to stop. It’s not healthy, and it’s not right. There are thousands upon thousands of people out there with eating disorders, all because of our culture’s bizarre interpretation of beauty. People are dying because of this so-called beauty.

 
Despite all of this, there are only 77 YA books in Barnes and Noble’s book catalog categorized as “Eating Disorders”. This is out of over 67,000 YA books they have cataloged.

 
Fortunately, some of those books are fantastic resources. My favorite on the subject is WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson. Unfortunately, there’s a painfully obvious lack of books on this topic.

 
I’m not sure why this is, but I am sure of one thing: We need more books about eating disorders. There needs to be more awareness about the conditions, and people need to become more open to discussing the topic. Publishing more books about eating disorders would be a big step in the right direction. It would provide people with the knowledge they need to maybe save someone’s life.

 
Yes, they’re usually depressing. Yes, they’re heavy topics. But that doesn’t mean eating disorder books should be left unpublished.

 
To end this post on a positive note, here is a link to a list of YA books about eating disorders. This is the largest list I could find, and there are only 106 books. But it’s a start, and I encourage you to read at least one of these books. You never know how it might change your life, or the life of someone else.