I once had to write a children's book for school. I wrote the story and realized my theme was that sometimes sorry isn't enough. Horrible lesson for elementary school kids. I remember being so glad I wrote YA instead of children's books because I could write the hard truth and know that my future readers could handle it.
I think little kids can handle the hard truth, but they shouldn't have too. I think once you reach YA books, you already know about some of the hard stuff and have too.
The thing is YA readers can handle the hard stuff, but where is it?
Tons of writers argue over sex, swearing, drugs/alcohol, diversity in YA because real teens deal with that stuff on a daily basis, but there are other issues we should be fighting to include in YA.
In one of my SNIs that I really want to make into a WIP, my MC is in an abusive relationship. For some teens, they deal with abuse on a daily basis.
I know some people are reading this and are about to yell at me in the comments listing book after book with abusive relationships, but most books don't. I will admit contemporary does a good job at portraying abusive relationships, but most of the other genres don't. If those genres do portray an abusive relationship, it's normally from a guy before she meets her real love interest or from a past relationship that bumps into their life with their real love interest.
Why isn't the real love interest the abusive one?
Because it isn't romantic or pretty.
In my SNI turn possible WIP, my main character's real love interest is abusive. There isn't another guy in the shadows to catch her.
I'm not here to rave about my wonderful idea.
My point is YA is such an amazing genre because we CAN talk about hard stuff like abuse, but most people don't.
Where are the girls in dystopian books with a RECOGNIZED eating disorder (none of this "I don't feel like eating" stuff. I'm talking about not eating for the sake of being thin) like anorexia or bulemia?
Where are the girls in fantasy novels in RECOGNIZED abusive relationships?
Where are the girls in historical novels with a RECOGNIZED drug addiction?
Why aren't we recognizing these HUGE topics in YA books?
YA readers can handle these topics.
Stop trying to make these genres pretty.
The truth isn't pretty neither should YA books.