Friday, January 8, 2010

YA Relationships Never Last More Than One Year

Last night the lake effect fairy came and gave me another snow day. Can you believe it?! I’ve been using the morning to catch up on a lot of things. Really important things like painting my toe nails with sparkly red and silver nail polishing and watching last night’s episodes of Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of the OC. Very, very important stuff. I feel like I’ve been spoiled with Christmas break and then two snow days.

This past week I have been thinking about time, specially in young adult literature. The draft of my book that I submitted to my agent spanned a year and a half. My main character starts the book when she’s a sophomore and the book ends when she’s halfway through her junior year. I did this because there were events that needed to happen within that time span, but I still wasn’t entirely sold on the book taking place over almost two years. I felt like I rushed through things in order to move the story along (like summer vacation). However, if I would have slowed down to write about everything, then the book would be double the length.

I wasn’t a hundred percent in love with my novel covering almost two years, so I started to look into the time span of other YA novels. Guess what? There wasn’t any!

I looked through my bookshelf, went through Good Reads and talked to my school’s librarian who is the master of YA literature. Besides, Prep (which isn’t classified as YA), I couldn’t come up with any books.

Now I can’t stop thinking about it. Why do you think that YA literature doesn’t span a lot of time? Do you think it’s possible to have a novel that spans more than a year? Can you think of any novels that do?


Michelle said...

The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak, takes place over several years. But you're right. Thinking of a YA that took place over any period of time longer than a summer or a school year was difficult.

à la vanille said...

My Most Excellent Year by Steven Kluger (and also my most favorite book) covers a whole school year and a part of their senior year.
I don't think you should worry about your book's time span being too long, if it's a good book, the time span shouldn't matter.
I think YA lit doesn't go over a long time span because teens (like me) are very impatient and since we're in the age of high-speed-internet, we like things fast. Though that's just my theory. Really though, as a teen reader, I've never seen a problem with the time span being too long. This is the first time I'd actually thought about it.
I think you might be having a case of OMG-what-if-my-book-sucks? Maybe it's best to stop worrying so much. And look - you posted this one 11:11, that's lucky! Make a wish! lol.

Michelle said...

I still don't know why they only encompass a short time period, but I thought of another book: The Green Glass Sea, by Ellen Klages.

Eileen Wiedbrauk said...

"the lake effect fairy" LMAO :)

My theory as to why YA books only span a year or less has a lot to do with the pace that we grow up. So much changes in a year, and the learning curve is steep when you're a teen (teen character). If the novel spans too long then it's difficult to find a problem (other than Voldemort) that would still be relevant to the same character years down the road.

I don't think a year and a half violates my theory of relevant problems. I think it's still a short enough time frame. Although a single year has the appeal of coming full circle.

kendra! said...

I also immediately thought of Prep and how it's uniquely satisfying to cover all four years AND YET I am still so bothered by the fact that we don't get to see Lee during the summers. H.S. summers are formative times, no?

Rachele Alpine said...

Michelle...I'm so embarrassed to say that I haven't read "The Book Theif" yet. I've heard it's an amazing book, and I know I need to read it asap!

Kendra...Do you like how I try to get that "Prep" mention in? I've probably mentioned it a million times already in this blog....I heart Curtis Sittenfeld!

Oh, oh, and I made a wish!!!! :)

Lisa and Laura said...

ooh, you must read The Book Thief. And this is a fascinating observation. My guess is that teens change and grow too quickly for books to lapse an extended period of time.