Two days ago, I attended a Literary Quiz event that my thirteen-year old daughter was taking part in. Her team didn’t achieve high marks in it – didn’t come last either and still enjoyed themselves – but what caught my attention was the question posed by the librarian chairing the event. What Young Adult books did you read at this age, that you think teens should read today? I was stumped, couldn’t think of a single book I’d read at thirteen that could be classed as Young Adult and for good reason, at that age I’d long since left Young Adult fiction behind. Young Adult fiction back then – and boy do I now feel old – was nothing like it is today. I was lucky in that for a small city, my local library had an extensive collection of books in the children’s section, but the Young Adult section was small, almost non-existent and not capable of crossing the divide between adult and teen readers like todays selection does, actually I think I’ve read more YA books as an adult, reading them alongside my children than I did as a teen.
So, when my daughter asked for something to read at school the next day I didn’t hesitate to offer her one of the books I read. Okay, truthfully, I didn’t have a problem with her reading any of the books I’ve read before the question had been posed, but her and I had spoken more about the books I read at her age and I reiterated that I had no problems with her reading adult categorised books – romance or otherwise. In the past when I’d offered her one to read she’d turn it down, coming up with a multitude of reasons – including I don’t want to see half-naked men or the characters are too old – but this time she took it. It wasn’t that much different from anything else she’d been reading, still romance, still queer characters – well no, her YA romances she’s read so far had queer characters in the side lines, not front and centre like the book I handed her, then again that was never an issue for her, queer-little-rainbow that she is.
What about the sex? Honestly, I don’t really care if she’s reading books that contain sexual situations it’s not as though I’ve handed her erotica and sex, as much as romance (or the lack thereof) is a part of life. They have sex-ed in school from her age upwards – our age of consent is sixteen – and I know if she finds it uncomfortable to read, she’ll stop and tell me. Hell, I’m looking forward to her discussing the book with me and the one I chose isn’t heavy on the graphic sex – not fade to black either.
I guess you’re all wondering then what I gave her to read, and well most of queer romances I own are e-books, but I have been -as money allows- buying my favourites in paperback if available. Among my recent purchases were two of Cat Sebastian’s historical romances, so my daughter is now currently reading Takes Two to Tumble. Can’t wait to hear her squeal over the ducklings.
The Yakuza and the English Teacher Series