As you may or may not remember, last fall I was part of a panel at the YALSA YA Lit Symposium all about contemporary YA fiction. At the very end of the panel, the audience had the chance to ask us questions or share comments, and one of the comments that stood out at me was that there aren’t quite as many representations of family in its varied and diverse forms as she wishes there were. Sure, we see divorced families and we see families where a parent is deceased, but there aren’t quite as many books out there about parents choosing to date again, remarriages, adoption, or other “non-traditional” family structures.
On the spot, I couldn’t point out books that did feature any of those things. Of course, on the drive home from the event, I immediately thought of Amy Spalding’s The Reece Malcolm List, which features a mom who is dating (but not yet remarried), along with many other interesting family-centric elements. Amy’s second book, Ink is Thicker Than Water, also tackles many dynamic aspects of family life, and it only seemed natural to ask her to talk about writing family in contemporary YA.
I guess the truth is that the older I get the less distance I feel. We’re all just people. Family might be this weird unit with its own set of expectations and rules, but these are also just other people. And that’s what I try to reflect when I write.