November 29, 2011

Just Contemporary: What I'd Like to See in Contemporary YA (Guest Post)

It's Week 5 of Just Contemporary month — a blog event devoted to contemporary YA reads, co-hosted by Ashley of Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing and Shanyn of Chick Loves Lit — and I'm swapping guest posts with Callie Kingston this week! The "Just Contemporary" topic this week is "What I'd Like to See in Contemporary YA." So without further ado, here's Callie's thoughts on it...

I'm so hyped to join the Just Contemporary Month blog swap, created by the incomparable Shanyn at and Ashley at

Thank you, Danya at A Tapestry of Words for hosting me today. Danya and I share lots in common: we both hail from the Pacific Northwest, we both majored in Psychology, and we both love chocolate! And, what a beautiful blog Danya has. Take a look around.


I've touched on this before in a Top Ten blog post . Since then, I've read dozens more young adult novels, and although I still think we need more strong female protagonists and humorous treatments of serious themes, I now have a few other ideas about what's missing in the genre.

First, I absolutely agree with Danya and others that we need more entries in the "New Adult" category. Where are the college kids? If it's true that teens enjoy reading about characters who are older than themselves (blazing the trail ahead?), why is the genre squeezed into a high school box? Most teens plan to go to college someday. Soon. And are dying to know what the college experience is like. Ditto young adult relationships which involve commitment (fancy word for moving in, planning long-term futures together, even *gasp* sex).

Second, I would love to see more novels take on tough subjects such as financial insecurity -- pretty common in this economy, and especially for young people. Have you looked at unemployment rates for youth? Outrageous. In a similar vein, I'm especially interested in stories about teens dealing with mental illness, which affects a significant percentage of teenagers who experience such diseases themselves, as well as in their families. It seems to still be a bit taboo.

Finally, please, please bring on more funny stuff. Even the most serious topics can benefit from a brushstroke of humor. Unfortunately, most authors shy away, afraid to make light of dark subject matter. Libba Bray is a master of this, however, and two of her novels, Going Bovine and Beauty Queens, rank up there with my all-time favorites.

What would you like to see more of in Contemporary YA?

Callie's bio, from her blog: I write novels, of the young adult variety. I write other stuff too. My home is in the Pacific Northwest, where I live with my husband, children, three dogs, and a trio of rats. When not writing, I like to explore the outdoors, especially the forests and beaches along the Oregon coast. I also enjoy a great cup of cappuccino, which happily is easily found in this part of the world.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Callie! I'd love to see some more of the topics you've discussed in contemp YA. 

And apparently Callie's upcoming novel Undertow is a "new adult" novel, which as you should know by now I'm on the lookout for!
If you'd like to read what I'd like to see more of in contemp YA, hop on over to Callie's blog here!


  1. More mental illness books would be great, yes. It's one reason I loved DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS so much this year and am looking forward to LIFE IS BUT A DREAM next year. A book on financial insecurity could be really interesting! I love serious/tough books. Ahhh, BEAUTY QUEENS had me rolling around with laughter!

  2. Great list! I hadn't even thought about financial issues but that would be something nice to see more of in YA. And yes, New Adult and mental illness (kudos to Danya for Psychtember! :) )

    Thanks so much for participating in Just Contemporary!


I love comments, so post away!

Related Posts with Thumbnails