On the Tenth day of Christmas Vacation

December 31st, 2008 • Kate

Ten Lords A-Leaping.jpgI’m all about raising a glass to ring in the New Year tonight! And I’m curious how you handle alcohol in YA novels. I have no doubt kids today (*shakes fist metaphorically*) are drinking, but do you feel showing it in a novel can feel natural and true? Or is the inclination always to show it as a bad choice, or something that leads to bad consequences?
I’m thinking of my own teenage years in college, and my early twenties — and I’m sure lots of people have this experience — where I drank socially but not to excess (or not always, at least). And I think I turned out ok. What do you think would be the result of showing that in a novel? Can you share any novels that you think have handled teen drinking in a natural way that didn’t turn it into a lesson or feel preachy somehow?
Hopefully this doesn’t sound too after-school-specialish, topic-for-discussiony, but I’m honestly curious.
Rexroth contributes Scott Westerfeld‘s Uglies. What else ya got?

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7 Responses to “On the Tenth day of Christmas Vacation”

  1. Julie Butcher Says:

    Wicked Lovely has drinking. There wasn't preaching, but there were conseqences.
    Julie

  2. Anna Swenson Says:

    John Green's novels all feature drinking, and as a teen I feel they portray it fairly accurately. Also Meghan Mccafferty's Sloppy Firsts series features teen drunkenness and drugs, and her protagonist articulates the "why" of it exceptionally well. Sarah Dessen's books also deal well with the "well, why not" feeling teens experience when tempted to drink. I can't really think of a book that inaccurately portrays teen drinking, or even one that preaches about it. Maybe I have a limited experience, but it seems that books with an opinion on drinking just don't feature it at all.
    Happy New Year, Daphne! Keep up the great blogging and have a great 2009!

  3. Christy Says:

    Those books came to my mind too.
    But then there's Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle where the teen girls are now a part of 'society' where it is proper and appropriate to have a glass of wine at dinner. In this book the drinking was more part of the meal rather than drinking for the high or buzz it gave.

  4. Ann Says:

    Interesting topic and definitely something to think about. It's a topic I tend to avoid, only because I didn't drink in high school (at all) and so it's not even on my radar screen. But maybe it should be.

  5. Julie Says:

    I'm currently in my last teenage year (thank God for that), and I believe that books that go out of their way to avoid drinking situations aren't true to the times. A teenager is probably going to drink and make poor decisions, but avoiding it all together or making it "preachy" can ruin a story in my opinion. I think that teens and drinking are a fact of life, and there are authors that can certainly write the scenario well, I agree that John Greene is great at that. I'm not saying all YA books should have drinking, it really depends on the character and the voice of the story.

  6. suzanne72 Says:

    Where I grew up, we drank in high school. It was completely normal. We threw parties when our parents were away, snuck out our windows and battled each other at Quarters. And most of us turned out okay. ; )
    As a result, a lot of my characters drink and do a lot of the same things my friends and I did growing up. In a critique group, another writer once asked, "Do kids really drink that much?" I told her that we did. But more importantly asked, "Does it feel authentic?"
    She thought it did. The point is, it has to be believable, like in John Greene's and Sarah Dessen's books. If you didn't grow up partying and you try to write a scene involving a rowdy drinking game, it's probably going to feel clunky. Just like I have a harder time writing from a super cautious girl's perspective.
    I guess every writer has something they tend to avoid, right?

  7. Jolie Hale Says:

    I'm late, but I had to make sure SOMEBODY mentioned The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The teenage characters in this [wonderful] novel smoke, drink, and use drugs, with varying consequences depending on the character. I like that the book shows how teens can go wrong with substances, but also how they can be okay.