I suppose first and foremost, I should introduce myself so you all know who I am. My name is Lisa, or Just Another Rabid Reader, or Destinyisntfree on the Twitters. Some of you have seen me around. Some of you may not have. If you aren't sure, I am that chick whose always talking about landing in Twitter jail. It is inevitable that it will happen every time I do a group chat. It is just a fact of life and I have accepted and even embraced it.
I have begun to notice a trend in young adult novels, or at least in the young adult novels I have read anyway. And before we even get into the meat of it, I love reading YA, and it is the main genre that I read. I have loved a majority of the books I have read and this is not meant to be a dig at the genre or the writers. I also write Young Adult, so I would never in any way try to say anything negative about my brothers and sisters in arms.
But here is the thing. How often do you see a main character in YA that is a disabled person? How often is it blatantly obvious that the main character is a minority? I can tell you, I could count the combined total in the books I have read on one hand. And that makes me sad. Let me explain.
I am the parent of a child on the autism spectrum. I also have another child with ADHD. Two of my 3 children are mixed-race and favor their father's heritage and so have darker skin. In a perfect world, race would be irrelevant, but since we do not live in a perfect world, I just think that it would be nice if they had books about characters that they could relate to as they hit their teen years. Maybe I will have to be the one to write them. Who knows, it could happen.
But I am going to focus more on the disabilities angle for this post. As the parent of a young child who has both autism and what is suspected to be a mild cerebral palsy, where are all of the young adult characters that have had to overcome a disability and are thriving? Where are the heroes and heroines who have to struggle to do things? Is it that people do not want to read about characters like that? Does that make it all too real? I don't know.
It is those facts that have prompted the story I am currently working on. I have published already a short story that is the prequel, if you will, to the novel. My main character is a teenage boy who is autistic. <Gasp> Yep, I am going there. My main character was nonverbal his entire life, until he was a teenager, and in the course of the story, he finds his voice and finds out that just because he has difficulties, that does not mean he cannot accomplish great things. These are the kinds of stories I want to see available for my children. They need to have characters in stories they can relate to. No one else is writing them, so I will. And my hope is that, maybe, if I start writing characters like this and people see that there are people who want to read them, then more stories with characters with challenges will start to appear in the stories that we read. I would read them. Would any of you?
A Bit About Lisa:
Lisa blogs at http://justanotherrabidreader.info.
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