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YA literature and the themes of adolescence and identity

April 21, 2012

“It has become axiomatic in analysis of YA literature that most of these texts are concerned with both the experience of adolescence and with a young person’s formation of identity. Adolescence is a transitional point between childhood and adulthood during which adolescents cope with the often uncomfortable transformations of their bodies and with events that typically occur for the first time during teen years, including first sexual experiences, exposure to alcohol and drugs, and the complex social world of high school. During this liminal time, most adolescents prepare to leave the home and take on the increased responsibilities and freedoms of adulthood. They may be entrusted with the use of a family car; they may encounter death for the first time; they may have to choose between employment, vocational training, and higher education. YA literature, whether realistic or fantastic, engages with these issues of identity. Perhaps in part because most writers of YA literature are themselves adults, much YA literature has a tendency to moralize and instruct adolescents. Although the explicitness of the didactic tenor has softened in the last several decades, Peter Hollindale cautions readers to be aware of both explicit and implicit (or what he terms “covert” and “passive”) ideology in children’s and YA literature (12). Hollindale’s concern is that children will simply internalize such “unexamined” and “shared” values without reflection (12-13).2 For example, in agreement with Hollindale, Roberta Trites states that YA literature is an “ideological tool used to curb teenagers’ libido” (85)….” (123)

Ref: Anna Silver (2010) ‘Twilight is Not Good for Maidens: Gender, Sexuality, and the Family in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Series’ Studies in the Novel, 42(1 & 2), Spring & Summer, pp. 121-138

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