Two of my favorite YA novels, The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp and the Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, are written by men about boys in trouble. I feel guilty admitting this given that I’m a woman writer and aware of the challenges women writers face. But I love young adult fiction that deals with the emotional struggles of boys. There are, in my opinion, not enough YA novels that do this.
Consider this alarming statistic about teen suicide: “…males are four times more likely to die from suicide than females.” One of the reasons suggested for this is that suicidal boys are less likely to call for help. I’d suggest that the gender stereotype that boys should not show emotion, or talk about feelings, contributes to their reluctance to seek help when they need it most. We need more more YA novels that guide boys through the perilous waters of adolescent feelings, and we need to get boys to read them. Here are some thoughts and statistics on boys in YA:
- For YA Interrobang, Tristina Wright writes about emotional boys in YA and all the things that manly boys are not supposed to feel.
- The statistics about boys in YA are not encouraging. According to Gender by the Numbers, a 2014 study found that “65% of the protagonists in YA novels were female, 22% were male, boys and girls shared main-character duties in 13%.”
- The above statistic may have something to do with another statistic cited in The Dudes Who Read YA: “60.5% of the young adult books sold were purchased by women, and 39.5% were bought by men.”
- There may be fewer male protagonists in young adult fiction, but here are 13 Great YA Novels With Male Protagonists and more Young Adult Books for Boys.
- Of course not all male YA protagonists are perfect. If you’re ready for a few laughs, check out @broodingYAhero, the twitter account that Brilliantly Captures The Ridiculousness Of Guys From Teen Fiction.