We’ve tackled romance at STACKED in the not-too-distant past — Kimberly and I wrote a genre guide to YA romance back in September. And while not all of those books are contemporary, a large portion of them are, and it’s fairly easy to parse out those which are from those which aren’t.
So instead of reworking a booklist that already exists or creating a duplicate to the great titles Tiffany shared in her post earlier today, I thought it’d be interesting to reshare a few contemporary YA posts from other series and features. I’ll pull an excerpt and link to those posts, so you can go back and catch up on prior conversations.
First up, what is contemporary YA fiction?
I wrote this piece last year, as I tried to parse out the differences between “contemporary,” “realistic,” and “historical” fiction. And even though I think I’ve nailed down a definition — at least one that I could work with within the context of a whole book about contemporary YA fiction — I think it’s a definition that’s fluid and still not easily nailed down.
“Obviously, this is a subjective line in the sand and it divides some books from others based on an arbitrary time frame. It’s something that other people might not hold in the same light I do, and it’s something that I think could be argued eight different ways and done so fairly each way. I don’t think there will ever be a moment when we as readers or people who think about books and reading choose to arbitrarily separate “realistic” from “contemporary” reads based on the change of years on a calendar. And we shouldn’t because, well, it’s kind of silly to do that. Rather, I think we do have to think critically about what is and isn’t contemporary to today’s readers. Veronica Mars isn’t contemporary to today’s teens. Neither is Buffy. And today’s teens — at least mine — consider Snow Patrol and Fall Out Boy to be classic rock. They know who Kurt Cobain is, but they don’t necessarily know what he is (and I think it’s fair that they know who he is because of the legacy surrounding him, since they have no idea who, say, REM is).
Is this musing a lot about a single term? It is. But it’s something I’ve thought a lot about and it’s something that has changed meaning in my time reading and reflecting upon what defines contemporary and realistic fiction. For me, realistic is the umbrella term; contemporary falls within that term.”
Let’s talk a little bit about sex in YA fiction, from a post by Blake Nelson as part of last year’s contemporary week:
“Then, around 2000 when I started writing Young Adult books, without really thinking, I just kept including sex scenes. I thought: well the world has evolved, YA is getting more sophisticated, the kids can handle it. They probably appreciate someone telling the truth about such things.
But then TWILIGHT came and I realized that actually the pendulum was swinging the other way. Kids actually preferred less sex. Younger girls especially. Does a 13 year old girl really want to hear the gory details of that stuff? Some of them do, but a lot of them probably don’t. Plus, in a world that was by 2000 so saturated in sex and sexual images and descriptions etc. the really interesting artistic choice might be to go the other way. And talk about pure love, idealistic love, as opposed to the jaded sexual love that had been so popular as I was growing up. In fact: I had kind of preferred that myself, but the world around me had seemed to require sex in novels.”
— from More Love, Less Sex by Blake Nelson
— from Swati Avasthi’s Friendship in Young Adult Fiction