The New York Times

Children's Books: Essay

NO TOPIC IS OFF LIMITS IN A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL. EXCEPT, PERHAPS, RELIGION AND FAITH.

A persistent question for those of us who write young adult literature is, What are we notallowedto do or say when writing for teenagers?

I usually answer with an anecdote about a near-crisis at my publisher nine years ago, regarding a single use of the F-word in my second novel (the F-word remained). Now, I say, we are long past that worry. A writer can go as dark and violent as it gets (see “The Hunger Games”). Sex is more than fine (see all of B.T. Gottfred’s giddy, explicit novels). Graphic, instructive, erotic, romantic, disappointing: Bring it all on! Even better, current Y.A. novels now have many L.G.B.T.Q. protagonists (see Meredith Russo’s “If I Was Your Girl”),

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