Sunday, April 4, 2010

What happened to the parents?

Really fascinating piece in the New York Times today about parents in YA books -- a historical look at how they've evolved (mostly devolved -- or disappeared). It's called "The Parent Problem in Young Adult Lit"; check it out here.

In my YA book group, we started talking about this topic when we were reading Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. Get the parents out of the way and the kids can be heroic. Then again, many of the YA writers are Gen-Xers -- could this the revenge of the latch-key kids?

After witnessing the impotent father in Twilight, the murder of Bod's parents in Graveyard Book, and the abusive behavior of the harrowing psycho-mom in The Rules of Survival, I was surprised to encounter the flawed but heroic single mom in Rachel Mead's fantastic When You Reach Me.

But let's not talk about what happens to the parents in my new favorite YA book, Jellicoe Road...

(The painting is Mary Cassatt's "Under the Horse Chestnut Tree.")

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