Monday, July 14, 2014

Where's Your Mama?

by Wendy Bennett   

Parents in Young Adult (YA) books - or lack of parents in YA - has become a stereotype, a joke I see almost every time I read criticism of YA. 

Guess what? My Mature YA/NA heroine doesn't have parents. She is raised by her grandparents. What a cliche I am, right? Knowing this is a stereotype and jumping right into it. The hero doesn't have parents either. GASP!

I didn't write my heroine without parents for convenience of my plot. Quite the opposite, actually. I wrote my heroine without parents because every part of who she is/what she knows/how she thinks was shaped by the fact that she lost both of her parents before she turned 6 years old. My goal is that it intensifies the plot and gives the reader more insight into her character. 

I don't have a problem with YA protags not having parents - if it's done well. I think something like that needs to be researched, not just thrown in for convenience. The age a person loses a parent is important. Which parent they lose is important. How the parent was lost is important. How the loss is dealt with by the rest of the family is important. I tried to incorporate all of this into my novel. **Through my eyes and the research I have done. I understand that not everyone deals with loss the way my characters deal with loss.** However, in my research, I have noticed distinct patterns and emotions, especially in females who have lost mothers, that I believe gets glossed over in books. 

If I wrote a book set in the Regency period. I would have to research that period, right? I can't make things up off the top of my head because it fits into my plot. It loses authenticity and believability. I feel the same way about how the loss of a parent is portrayed.

I may be a little crazy on this one, because it's close to my heart. What do you think about parents in YA?