YA Wednesday: The Special Snowflake Trope, Is YA too PC, Should YA Check its Privilege, Break My Body

s_phed_ec_05845_16x9Today I’ve decided to stir up a little controversy with some links that challenge popular YA tropes and trends. Nothing, not even the current push to make YA more diverse, is above criticism, and I’m glad to share links that dare to suggest improvements.

Last, because I continue to be dazzled and inspired by the Olympic gymnasts, I’m sharing an incredibly moving essay by a gymnast turned writer.

  • Should The “Special Snowflake” Trope Be Retired asks if there are too many characters in YA who are so special that they are the only ones who can save the world. I personally would argue that no snowflake is special because no two are the same, and it takes a village, not one super-snowflake, to save humanity.
  • This writer asks Is YA fiction too politically correct, and suggests that “political correctness as a concept can be a double-edged sword, too; deployed as a quiet form of censorship, it may mean that people feel as though they must inherently avoid certain subjects which may be deemed controversial.”
  • Does YA fiction need to check its privilege? While young adult fiction now features more LGBTQ and racially diverse characters, this writer is concerned that YA still lacks characters from working class backgrounds. I’ve noticed this myself, including a preponderance of protagonists who attend private schools, boarding schools, or elite public schools.
  • In Break My Body Marin Sardy writes with heart-breaking eloquence about being a gymnast, losing a brother, and becoming a woman. “It was through gymnastics that I discovered what little girls are made of. We were made of spit and gristle and callused palms, and giggles and neon leotards and fearlessness to a degree that no one over the age of twelve has any right to claim. Our innocence was our power.” No tropes here.

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