SURPRISE. Another community week. But, that was last week, you say. Yes, it was, but I've made room for this amazing post because this talented writer is publishing her Sci-Fi book, Two Lives Three Choices, on the fifteenth of this month. She's been a great support to me, even beta reading Malfunction, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of her work.
Family Relationships in YA Novels
If you pick up a YA novel, you’re almost guaranteed to find romance in some way, shape or form. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. People do have a desire to form a romantic connection with someone. But those relationships take time to develop in real life. In order to reflect that in fiction, the romance takes up a large portion of the story. Unfortunately, that leaves less room to develop relationships that the main character has with other people in their lives. Usually, the main character in YA tends to attempt to solve problems:
On their own,
With their love interest
With their friends and / or love interest
As a result, it’s the familial relationships that suffer the least development. Yet, those are the relationships I’m most curious about. They can have just as powerful of an impact on both characters and story as romance can.
For example, while there is a love triangle in Hunger Games, Collins makes sure you are also able to see the impact that Katniss’ family has on her. The loss of her father has an impact on all members of the family. Particularly Katniss and her mother. Her mother is overwhelmed with grief and is unable to adequately take care of Katniss or her younger sister, Prim. These two factors force Katniss to become the family provider. In addition to Katniss’ relationship with her mother being strained from the ordeal, it also makes her reluctant to open up and trust others. In addition, Katniss’ love for Prim is what motivates her to volunteer to take Prim’s place in the Hunger Games. This action not only drives the plot for the book but starts the chain reaction that results in Catching Fire and Mockingjay. In this, and the other books, Collins makes sure that both romance and family have a strong influence on Katniss, and the story as a whole.
Families don’t always have to be related by blood. Friends can become like a second family, or even the family that you never had. Those bonds can have just as much sway, and in some cases, even more.
I’m not saying romance doesn’t have its place in YA. But family has its place there, too. I personally think it would be awesome to have more YA where the main character goes to their parents for advice. Or have siblings that are as integral to the story as the love interest. Regardless of how the family came to be, those stories are important to both tell and read.