The Birds and the Dead Bees

17 Apr

When I read YA books, and I do this pretty frequently, I very rarely find the violence or deaths to be over the top for children. Instead, I keep wondering how all of these stories about kids anywhere from 13 to 18 never seem to involve anything more than the occasional cheek peck.

I was raised on Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera, so I’m pretty certain that any excessive exposure to imaginary violence would have already reared its ugly head and forced me into a life of cannibalism and human trafficking if it was going to happen. Moreover, the books I read as a child were almost exclusively within the fantasy genre, so I read about gruesome deaths inflicted on all forms of both the living and undead without growing up to be a skin-wearing serial killer.


And yet, not surprisingly, very rarely did I happen upon books that dealt with the very real likelihood of sexual attraction among the characters. Don’t get me wrong, I was gifted Then Again Maybe I Won’t and it did wonders at answering some few questions I didn’t have the guts to ask. Even so, books specifically aimed at young adults very rarely broached the subject of sexuality by any real measure. Having grown up a young boy, I cannot begin to illustrate how woefully uninformed I was and how the occasional pilfered porno mag or overheard locker room braggart did little to provide real information. Even worse, my attempts at furthering my book-based knowledge with other Judy Blume titles did less to help. I never got my period, so I must have skimmed over something vital.

Harry Potter got a kiss, Whatshername and the sparkling vampire waited until they were married and anyone not terminally romantic had stopped reading before anything progressed beyond the weird watching-her-sleep thing. Despite the excessive use of ‘puss’ as ‘face’ in the Xanth books, nobody ever actually saw one. Maybe if just one character that I grew up with had dared to have a thought about sex, I wouldn’t have considered myself unreasonably preoccupied with it. I’m not suggesting that Wind in the Willows should have culminated in an explicit contrivance between species, but Ron and Hermione could have gotten as far as a little under the shirt, over the bra without turning everyone into perverts.


Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


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4 responses to “The Birds and the Dead Bees

  1. theartistryofthebipolarbrain

    April 17, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    Hmmm…Mercedes Lackey’s Magic’s Pawn series with Vanyel wasn’t explicit, but it definitely talked about a relationship and sex between two males. And the third book discussed age differences, rape, and a sexual relationship in the aftermath. I think that’s what you should have been reading. That or been raised with Mom. No hiding sexual stuff in our house…that I remember. I also read Ellen Emerson White’s President’s Daughter trilogy (now a four book series). It openly discussed how far she was going and willing to go when dating her boyfriend. It also discussed possible nonconsensual sex with a kidnapper in the third book.

    Maybe I just found the odd and sexual books?

  2. tobiaswrites

    April 17, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    Hmmm. Perhaps the problem was growing up pre-Google. Or perhaps you have a much better nose for potential sex behind the dust jacket.

  3. tamarahickman

    April 19, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    I think the heart of this is really what people consider “Young Adult” literature. In junior high, I was reading my mothers harlequin romances and other “grown up” fictions, anywhere from horror to high fantasy (probably too much info, and still not very realistically informative. =) My point is parent sensorship. Not all parents want their little darlings exposed to the realities of sex until they are married, which as a mother myself, I can see that. But at the same time, if you are a junior high kid in search of grown up fiction, then perhaps one should increase their AR reading level to outside the elementary library. ^_~


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