Friday, March 18, 2011

An Edgy State of Mind

Something I've been wondering lately...what, exactly, is Edgy YA?

I've read that if your YA novel has elements like swearing, or teen sex, or drinking, or drugs, then you've got yourself an Edgy YA.

So I think about the YA books that *don't* have any of those elements, and I think to myself what you've got there is a boring book.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I suppose there are plenty of books out there that don't include any of the "racy" elements I listed above, but they're becoming the exception, not the rule, at least from where I'm standing.

Which brings us back to the question. What makes YA edgy? I've been thinking about it a lot, since my most recent YA novel has swearing, some sexual situations, drugs, drinking, homosexuality, and atheism, but I don't really think of it as Edgy. (You want what I think of as Edgy, you go pick up a copy of Beautiful by Amy Reed. Excellent book.)

And then it hit me. Maybe edgy is a spectrum, and it roves around depending upon who YOU are. Or, in the case of a teen reader, depending upon what your parents think edgy is. Some adults think Britney Spears is edgy, while I find her...oh, occasionally entertaining, but mostly...meh. (That Baby One More Time song was pretty freaking catchy though.) Some people think Insane Clown Posse is edgy. I don't particularly, though juggalos have been known to freak me out occasionally.

So...edgy YA. I think what I've written would be labeled as edgy by some people, and would be called contemporary YA by others. And it doesn't necessarily matter. I think teenagers will like it. I think they'll find it entertaining. I don't think they'll label it as an Important Work of Literary Fiction. I don't think anyone will speak of my book in a hushed voice. I think they'll just dig the story. And I'm really happy that I feel that way.

What do you think? What constitutes edgy for you? And why do we even have an edgy YA category? I don't hear anyone talking about edgy adult fiction. What is it about teenagers and reading that we're so scared of? Pretty much everyone I know has seen American Pie, but I haven't heard ANY anecdotal stories of ruined baked goods. Why do we fear what our teenagers read so much?


  1. Exactly. It's totally relative. A fellow blogger I know is pretty conservative and is bothered by a preponderance of swear words in books, whereas I can't live an hour of my daily life without saying a curse or hearing it in my household (of 2 adults.) Same goes for other "edgy" things.

  2. I know! I had to give up swearing when my preschoolers were tiny. I didn't want them to be judged because of my own lack of restraint. But as soon as I drop them off at school, I let it all out. Lots of pent up cussing, I'm tellin ya! :)