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What’s On Your YA Milk Carton?

A discussion of what's missing in YA literature. (Vampires need not apply.)

What’s On Your YA Milk Carton?

The coffee thermos sitting on the counter. The umbrella under the restaurant table. The kid left behind on Christmas. We've all experienced that feeling, the faint buzz in the back of yr brain that sneaks up on you until, suddenly, you're leaping up out of yr plane seat and shouting, "KEVIN!" or, if you're not Catherine O'Hara, maybe something slightly less dramatic like, "MY KEYS!" It's that feeling that something is missing, but you can't quite put yr finger on it until the moment it becomes painfully obvious/material for a screwball comedy.

Well, now that we've rhapsodized about deal makers and bitched about deal breakers, it's time to turn our highly intellectual minds over to a new scientific puzzle: what's missing in YA literature today?

Dude, I KNOW. HOW AWESOMELY BAD IS THAT COSTUME?!! It popped up in my Google search, and I was like WE HAVE A WINNER. Esp. cos it also manages to tie in a joke about the person's drinking habits, but in a more subtle way than ye olde beer bottle costume. For those of you still looking for a Halloween outfit, YOU'RE WELCOME.

Ok, let's move on to my official list, although if an author can put that headpiece (?) into a YA book, she/he will earn my undying swimfannery. So, I spent some considerable time (hey, my lunch break is V. VALUABLE) mulling over this question and came up with five things I'd like to see occur more in YA literature:

1.  Vampires

HA HA JUST KIDDING.

1.  DiversitAH!

Yeah, yeah, let's just get the obvious one out there. I have to say it like a South Park character, otherwise I feel like a well-meaning but completely lame adult figure who speaks in gentle tones and wears denim vests embroidered with apples and school buses. But the major duhness of this factor doesn't make it less true. YA needs more characters of color! It needs more gay and lesbian kids! It needs more representations of different religions! And, most importantly, it needs all of those things without making them into a heavy, bludgeoning instrument of after school specialness. Pro-tip for the authors out there: literary diversity should be like a pair of boobs, aka NATURAL.

2.  A Good Old-Fashioned Mystery

So I've been re-watching Veronica Mars, and besides rekindling my crush on Aaron Ashmore (LOGAN WHO), it's reminding me of how much I love a good mystery. And I don't mean a "Wait, could my boyfriend be a [insert supernatural being]?!!" kind of mystery, I mean a lock-picking, clue-collecting, trench-coating wearing extravaganza of wits, suspense and shocking discoveries. There was a reason I was addicted to Nancy Drew as a kid, and let's just say it had nothing to do with Ned "Ya Big Dolt" Nickerson.

3.  Summer Camp

SUMMER CAAAAAMP!!! Gah, I miss those halcyon days of making s'mores, canoeing across the lake and flirting over the craft table. Esp. because I NEVER HAD THOSE DAYS. I mean, I did spend two weeks at creative writing camp once, and even though it was an absolute blast, we never got to play an epic game of color wars like I heard about on This American Life. In fact, I don't think we even went outside, unless you count the four minute walk between classes. So since I live vicariously through YA, it's high time I get to experience those sweet summer days of wrangling campers and those hot summer nights of sneaking out to drink beer in the woods and exchange a few kisses under the stars. Bonus: no bug bites!

4.  International Locales

Reading Heist Society, not to mention Meghan's review of Sea, merely increased my appetite for foreign lands. As much as I love reading about ordinary teenage lives, couldn't more of those lives take place in, say, Paris or Budapest or Buenos Aires? I'll even take CANADA at this point, just give me SOMETHING with more culture than a suburban American high school cafeteria. And speaking of the caf, NEED I MENTION the tasty business involved in this factor?!

5.  Transition To College

I've talked about this before (namely in my Jessica Darling review) but I would LOVE to see more books tackling the exciting, stressful, completely overwhelming transition from high school to college. Some might say that the v. definition of YA prevents it from entering a university campus, but those "some" are definitely not 31-year-old ladies who write for this blog. And if you think a freshman doesn't quality as a young adult, then you obviously haven't been to a college party lately (not that I have, obvs, but I do know that self-respecting adults do NOT drink Everclear. Anymore. Esp. after that one time. Ahem).

 

Ok, now that I've thrown out a few items from my wish list, it's yr turn! What's missing in YA? And, more importantly, do they even put faces on milk cartons anymore? DO KIDS EVEN DRINK MILK ANYMORE? GAH WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO GO GET GRANDMA HER NIGHTCAP. AND MAKE IT A DOUBLE.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).