The Hub is currently going through a great series about the “next big thing” in YA. One post I was especially glad to see was this one about contemporary/realistic fiction. As a writer of contemporary realistic YA, I know it doesn’t always seem as fun and flashy as some of the other genres–no monsters, no time travel, no awesome steampunk outfits. (Unless we’ve got a real-life steampunker on our hands, in which case I want to read that book.) But it’s a solid standby for the genre. As Kelly says:
“It is the bread and butter of YA fiction because it is the essence of what the teenage experience is. It’s happy. It’s dark. It’s tough. It’s romantic. It’s mysterious.”
Which is one part of what I love about contemporary YA. As much as I love to read about other worlds and heroic adventures, it’s also great to connect with characters who are dealing with very real issues and having very real adventures.
Kelly offers many suggestions for contemporary realistic YA reading that covers a breadth of topics like grief, sex, graduation, obesity, and secrets. There are so many topics and options because YA is ever-evolving and expanding. Kelly says it way better than I could:
“Nothing in contemporary YA fiction is sacred. There are no topics too light nor too dark to dig into, nor should there be. Even topics that emerge again and again — things like cancer or depression or first love or friendship — are still new and fresh upon each telling. Teens live a million different experiences, and even when faced with similar challenges, each individual tackles it in his or her own unique manner.
This is why there is and never will be a “next big thing” in contemporary fiction. The only trend and the only prediction that can be made for reality is that teens live it each and every day, and having a robust selection of stories about real experiences is crucial. But it’s not simply about having them that matters — reading them and knowing about them is just as critical.”
I want to put this on a big flag and wave it around. Contemporary YA may not get the buzz that some other genres do, but it’s filled with love and hope and truth and humor, and all of that matters.
Make sure to check out the full post because it’s so good.