Monday, June 6, 2011

Sex in YA Romance

Sex. It's a loaded topic no matter where you go, but it's definitely controversial in the realm of YA books. Now, I don't want to get into the usual points of whether or not it should be there. Teens have sex. Let's get over it. Having it in a YA book (or not) isn't advocating that everybody does (or doesn't) do it.

Personally, I don't care whether or not sex is in a YA book. Just like teens, sex will be right for some characters and not right for others. As long as the authors treat the topic with respect, I don't care what they choose. If they want their character to wait till marriage...fine. Some teens make that decision. If they want their characters to make mistakes and learn from them...that's fine too. Fall deeply in love and make informed decisions...great. Basically, I can support most forms of sexual choices in YA, including abstinence. All teens are different and I'm sure the different representations of sex will speak to different readers.

If I'm not here to harp on whether or not sex occurs, what the heck am I writing about? I'm writing about how quickly it happens.

I've recently read several YA books where the characters jumped from tame kissing to sex in two pages flat. Okay, that might be an exaggeration of page limit, but it's not an exaggeration of the action. There was one chaste kissing scene (or none at all) and then BAM! Sex time. And it wasn't an, "Oh my God, how did that happen so fast?" kind of a scene. It was a "I'm so deeply in love with you and wasn't it perfect?" kind of scene. Isn't there anything between kissing and sex?

Yes. The answer is YES!

Then why the heck aren't we reading about it? Aren't there other ways to feel satisfied that slowly builds up to sex? For me, reading about two characters falling in love, the build-up of their physical connection is just as important as the build-up of their emotional connection. You don't go from "Hello" to "I love you" without steps in between, so why should you go straight from kissing to sex?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying authors should get all graphic with the physical sexual stuff, but there's a way to write it that let's you know there's more going on without turning it into an explicit scene.

And yes, I get it that sometimes there's a good reason for this to happen. I'm not saying it should never happen. But it sure as heck does bug me when there doesn't seem to be a good reason for it.

So, am I alone with this pet peeve? Or does this speedy relationship building bother you too? Either way, go for it in the comments. I look forward to reading your opinions.

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