And these days, I try to not blurt it all out. But this subject kept coming up and then I found other authors were frustrated over the same thing, and a few readers have mentioned it as well. It's this kind of remark about a YA novel: I liked the idea of this book, but well, maybe younger teens will enjoy it. Or, There's no sex, so this is obviously for younger teens. Now I'd never say what you can and can't put in a review, and I'm sure some people will know by those kinds of phrases whether or not the book is for them, but I do worry a little bit what message it sends to teens. You know, the people YA books are for? Whenever there's a debate about banning YA books because there's sex in them, there are hundreds of posts about how NEWSFLASH: Teens have sex. I'm not disputing that. But NEWSFLASH: Some teens don't. And now we get to the part that I can't believe I'm going to publicly admit (to my five or so blog readers) but I'm gonna say it anyway. When I was a teen, it was well known that I didn't drink or have sex. People would often tell me things like, "You know that's weird, right?" I wanted to say, "Hey, thanks so much for telling me that. I was so unaware of it before now." People also thought it was funny to ask me if my parents were virgins. Yeah, hilarious. I just wasn't ready to have sex and chose not to drink, I wasn't stupid.
I didn't get my first boyfriend until I was seventeen (an older teen, I'll go ahead and point out), and I didn't know what I was doing and I was awkward and felt weird about kissing in front of other people. Again, I was aware of the weird. I asked myself why I couldn't just date like a normal person? Over the years I've talked to a lot of people, and they had similar dating experiences, so I was more normal than I realized, which would've been nice to know back then. As I got older, when I'd started thinking I'd gotten the hang of dating, there were times I'd put the sex-brakes on, only to be treated like crap by the guy because of it. In fairness, there were also a few who were understanding about it, and a few who didn't even bring up the subject. (Maybe, just maybe, not all teen guys are ready for it, either.) But I think we can all admit that being a teen and dealing with those things is far from easy. The reason I love YA novels is because they're about discovering who you are and making mistakes and learning and growing and, of course, I really like the first love aspect of them, too. I think saying books like that only appeal to younger teens might make older teens feel like they're weird, and honestly, they've already got enough of that.
So what I'm saying is, it's okay to have teens who don't have sex. It's okay to have teens who do have sex. It's okay for them to regret sex. It's okay for them to like sex. And while I'm sure most authors are happy adults also enjoy their YA novels, they really are for the teens.
Anyway, that's what I wanted to say, and if you feel the need to throw things, I prefer chocolate, Mtn Dew, and shoes. Feel free to comment. The nice thing is I've been told I'm weird enough times in my life that I'm okay with it.