Our friends, Em & Nora (who we like to call “Em & No”), recently launched a site for grown-ups about young adult literature called LoveYALit.com*, since (according to the New York Times) more and more people 18-and-over are enjoying books originally intended for the 18-and-under set. Of course, books about teens, the most hormonal among us, often deal with issues of first romantic relationships and sexual awakenings — and reading them as adults can emotionally transport us back to our own teenage years, when those things were really new and exciting, dramatic and traumatic. So we asked Em & Nora to give us a sampling of the good, the bad and the complicated of YA love and sex. We published the good first, here’s the bad, tune in next Thursday for the complicated:
Sometimes in YA, the darker, more depressing and horrifying side of sex is explored – molestation, incest, rape, STDs…. You name it, and you’ll likely find it in the YA section. These books are often challenged by would-be book banners but, fortunately, the freedom to read usually reigns supreme. Please note: just because the sex in these books is bad doesn’t mean we think the books themselves are.
Identical by Ellen Hopkins (2008) — This novel in verse is told from the perspective of twin sisters, one who is sexually molested by their father and the other who deals with their father’s “favoritism” by seeking out sex with drug dealers and random, scummy guys. Sex scenes in YA are not frequently written with much detail, but the sexual assault by “Daddy” is some of the more graphic sex we’ve come across in YA. Disturbing with a capital D. Check out our full review of Identical on LoveYALit.
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (2008) — When “Alice” was 10, she was kidnapped by Ray, a nondescript middle-aged man, and forced to be his sex slave. Now that she is 15 and going through puberty, he’s starving Alice to slow down this process while forcing her to look for her “replacement.” This means trolling the playgrounds and choosing a suitable target. It’s a chilling yet fascinating look at the vulnerability of children to power, control and violence — and the subsequent dehumanizing effects of such abuse.