A little while ago I wrote a discussion post on Diversity in YA Books but don’t worry this isn’t going to be more of the same and simply a list of diverse relationships we need to see in YA books. This is a more of a general list of the types of relationships that I feel are maybe missing or not represented enough when it comes to certain genres/books.
Everyone has relationships they love seeing in books, or books they enjoy more because they’ve got a good example of that relationship woven into the story. Just like diversity is important to see in books I think healthy romantic relationships, strong family bonds, and close friendships are just as important aspects that need to be represented as well.
Relationships We Need to See More of in YA Books
There’s a reason this one is first on my list this week, and that’s because when it comes to fantasy books there seems to be a severe lack of decent parent/child relationships. The main character is either an orphan, or becomes one within the first few chapters, or has seriously neglectful parents who don’t seem to care what happens to their child.
I guess it can be hard to save the world, or travel to other worlds, or take down an oppressive government with parents on your back about curfews or homework, but there’s got to be a happy medium somewhere. If J.K. Rowling can do it in Harry Potter I’m sure most authors can.
Girl hate is something I’ve seen in a fair few books, but there are also books when the main character doesn’t seem to have any strong relationships or friendships outside of their love interest. It’s either that or when s/he meets their love interest the friendships they had at the beginning of the story tend to get pushed to the sidelines to make room for their developing romance.
Maybe this is something I’ve only noticed now I’ve gotten older, and maybe this is a point you don’t agree with, but nothing annoys me more than when two characters have a major plot line that revolves around their lack of communication. Healthy relationships mean people talk to one another about their problems, and I’d love to see less angst and more communication in all relationships in YA books, not just romantic ones.
Scarlett and Tella from Caraval, Rhy and Kell from the Shades of Magic series, Seven and Starr from The Hate U Give. I was looking around my shelves for more examples and couldn’t find many. There are a lot of characters in both fantasy and contemporary books that are only children, or do not have close relationships with their siblings. Those kinds of bonds are my favourite to read because siblings are pretty much like having a best friend who lives with you.
Considering the fact that the more characters you have the more individual development you need to give them maybe this isn’t possible, but people do not pop up from nowhere. Parents have their own parents and siblings so it would make sense that the main characters would potentially have grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Where are they because I can’t think of one book off the top of my head that even mentions them?
Yes extended family members are not always a big part of some people’s lives, but they can be a huge part of other people’s.
I have dedicated a whole post to this point before but there can never be too much diversity in books, and we’re always going to need more. So give us relationships on the LGBT spectrum, give us families who struggle together through one person’s mental health issues, give us strong friendships between different POCs.
Now Onto the Discussion Part of This Post:
What relationships would you like to see more in YA books?
Do you think the relationships I’ve featured in this post are extensively represented, or not?
Are there any books you can recommend that feature great examples of any of the above relationships I mentioned? Or are you looking for books that do as well?
Let me know in the comments below.