Part 2 ended here: I write edgy YA because it tells a truth about what life is like for a teen.
Part 3 begins here: I write edgy YA because I have complete faith that teens can handle the edge.
There are three basic stages of books for kids: Picture books explain the world to little ones with inventive stories about the basic rituals of life: going to school, going to bed or getting a sibling. Middle grade books thrust kids into their first adventures slightly beyond the reach of adults so that they can begin to figure things out own their own. In young adult books, the characters (and readers) are trying to understand themselves in the world. They are exploring their own lives, trying to figure out who they are and what makes sense. They are reexamining the status quo. They’re asking why and why not?
I wrote EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN specifically for that young adult reader. Why? Because I want the characters in EVIDENCE to shed light on a teen’s exploration of self and the world.
When Leann can’t respond to Marshall’s simple genuine proposal of love because she was molested by her uncle and his son, I hope young adult readers will understand the cost of incest.
When Izzy has a theory about losing her virginity and acts on it with her friend, I think teens will comprehend her thinking. I think they will also appreciate the reaction of her friend Alex who isn’t so cavalier about sex and losing his virginity. This tricky rite of passage is important to teens and they will come to their own conclusions about this portrayal.
When Karla murders someone, I make sure to portray her in such a way that readers will realize how that vicious act grew out of a betrayal by her parent. I think that right or wrong won’t be the conclusion, but a deeper understanding will.
When Dwight runs away from home because he finally sees that his father enjoys beating his mother and him, I think readers will grasp how hard it was for the boy to get to the moment of running away.
Life is tender. Yes, we want to protect our kids. But we also want to help them develop their powers of discernment. I hope that EVIDENCE will sharpen their perception because life isn’t a choice between right and wrong, good and evil. Life isn’t black and white. It’s a bit more subtle. It’s full of grey areas.
Edgy YA writers take kids to dark places and turn on the lights because those readers are smart and they are trying to figure stuff out.
Why do I write edgy YA?
Because I have complete faith in my readers. They know the view is more expansive out here on the edge.