Welcome to my blog! I hope you enjoy your stay :]

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Minorities in YA

You know how LGBT literature is this big thing right now? Maybe 'big thing' isn't the right way to put it. It's popular. There hasn't been much of it traditionally, then there were a few books, and now there are more popping up all the time.

Well. Did you know that only about 4% of Americans call themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender? Link (This statistic fluctuates. I've also seen it at 2% and 3.5%. I'm using this percentage because I can link to it, and it seems a little more recent.)

Now here's another question. Have you noticed the lack of books about other minorities, such as stories with non-Caucasian characters?

According to this article, in 2010 over 16% of Americans were Hispanic or Latino.

And then we have this data, from this report:

How components of the U.S. population are projected to change by 2050:

Racial/ethnic groups20052050

Note: *=Non-Hispanic
American Indian/Alaska Native not included

The projections show that by 2050:

•Nearly one in five Americans will have been born outside the USA vs. one in eight in 2005. Sometime between 2020 and 2025, the percentage of foreign-born will surpass the historic peak reached a century ago during the last big immigration wave. New immigrants and their children and grandchildren born in the USA will account for 82% of the population increase from 2005 to 2050.

•Whites who are not Hispanic, now two-thirds of the population, will become a minority when their share drops to 47%. They made up 85% of the population in 1960.

•Hispanics, already the largest minority group, will more than double their share of the population to 29%.  Link to source 

Okay, wait a minute. Do you see how off-kilter this is? It seems like everyone is so excited about LGBT lit and adding something to Young Adult shelves that is noticeably lacking. But according to the above survey, LGBT people account for only 4% of the population. That's 4%, while the Hispanic and Latino population is at 16% and growing rapidly. In less than forty years, that population will "more than double."

So then, if we are concerned about including minorities in YA lit, why do I look around and see Caucasian girls on all our covers, and why are only 1 out of maybe every 15 books about a non-White character? Granted, often a character's ethnicity is left ambiguous. But basing by our covers, and the racial descriptions we do get in the text, I think this is a fair assessment. What do you think? Am I totally off base?

It seems to me that we're focusing on the wrong minority. I'm not trying to say that LGBT lit isn't important, or that we shouldn't include them. It's just when you look at the percents (4% vs. 16%) and then look at how those numbers are reflected in YA right now ( I speculate that the number of LGBT characters is pretty even with non-Caucasian) . . .  it just doesn't make sense.

I want to see more ethnic characters in YA. How about you?

Okay, in the nature of full disclosure, the story I am writing right now has a Cherokee main character loosely based on my grandma. Her racial background kind of snuck its way in there, and then I realized how few characters like her there are. Thus: this rant.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Problem with Love Triangles

I despise love triangles. Sometimes, if I start a book and a love triangle develops (and it's part of a series), I'll just stop reading the book. And here's why:

1. Love triangles are almost always under-developed.

I know, it's hard to create developed and real characters. But if you're going to have people falling in love, can I at least see their appeal? And no, amazing hair and pretty eyes does not count. Not in a lasting relationship, at least. My problem with love triangles is that often so much is taken up with the girl whining about having to choose a guy, so that the actual guys get cast into the background. We see their attractive physical appearance but their personalities often get short changed.

2. You know who's going to get the girl.

Really, authors? Let's be honest. We know from the start who's going to get the girl. When you drag us through an entire book (or heaven forbid, and entire series) with this love triangle, when we ALL KNOW HOW IT'S GOING TO END . . . it gets old. Fast. I find these girl characters in their boy dilemmas extremely irritating. When they're always wondering which one, which one? Oh, I can't choose! it gets annoying. Especially when it's so obvious who she's going to pick.

3. I always fall for the wrong guy.

Every. Single. Time. Okay, so not every time, but almost. It's hard to watch a character I love get rejected - and when it happens again and again, I get kind of tired of love triangles.

Now, that being said . . . I have read love triangles done right. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. (And isn't it so marvelous when it does?) Have you read any really good love triangles? Share your thoughts!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

3 Reasons to Read . . . Bluefish

First day, new school, no way out. It sucks being with Grandpa in this new town. It sucks that they left the old place without finding Rosco. Travis doesn't want to do anything, especially try to get by in his classes, which never seems possible, anyway. He's a Bluefish - stupid, angry, alone.

Then, suddenly, there's a girl. Velveeta. She's up in his face and she's not backing down. She is as loud as he is quiet, as outgoing as he is shut in. She's pretty, in a funky, scarf-wearing sort of way, and she's smart - way smart - smart enough to figure out that Travis has a secret. And she should know. She has a few of her own. She's not sure what's up with him, but she's determined to find out. So is McQueen, the teacher who just might be the one to unleash something in Travis that has been held back for a very long time.

With a cast of utterly believable characters, Pat Schmatz has crafted a story rich in moments of trust and connection, told with humor, heartbreak, and fearless honesty. - Jacket description

1. Travis. Travis is a private and reserved person. I loved that his story is told in 3rd person, because the more reserved narration fit his character so well. There is just a little bit of distance when "he" is used instead of "I," and that distance helped develop Travis's character. Travis has secrets and hurts and fears that he doesn't let anyone know. Sometimes 3rd person can make it harder to connect with a character, but in this case it's really the opposite.

2. Velveeta. Interspersed throughout Travis's story are notes from Velveeta. Velveeta is a loud and outgoing person, so this 1st person narration fit her character just as Travis's 3rd person fit him. These notes also add so much to the story. We slowly discover a side of Velveeta she keeps hidden, and her character really becomes multi dimensional.

3. The emotion. There are funny parts, there are sad parts, and there are touching parts that pull it all together. It's so easy to root for these characters, and feel like you know them, and want them to end up all right. The end is left kind of open - there are threads and things that have not been tied up and resolved, and I loved that. Life goes on for Travis and Velveeta and everyone else past the last page, and that's really how it should be.

I really loved this book. I had never heard of it before I discovered it in the library, and now that I've read it, I don't know why it's not being talked about more. It really was an amazing story. I highly recommend it. Give it a try - I hope you'll like it as much as I did.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

3 Reasons to Read . . . TEXAS GOTHIC

Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face. - Synopsis taken from Amazon

3 Reasons to Read

1. Seriously? You had me at "hot neighbor cowboy." From the very first meeting between Amy and Ben (the cowboy) I pretty much adored them. Their conversations are funny and quirky and their relationship is just so much fun to watch.

2. Ghost hunting! My sister and mom love those ghost shows, the ones where they go to supposedly haunted places with their gadgets and such and try to determine if there's really paranormal activity. Reading this book was almost like watching one of those shows, except for funnier, and with some magic thrown in.

3. The Goodnights. I loved all the dynamics and interactions. Phin is a genius but she's pretty clueless about a lot of things (like sarcasm and flirting), and I loved the family animosity between her and cousin Daisy. Daisy is a psychic and Phin is the science geek, with crazy gadgets and everything, and their rivalry was adorable.

To sum it up  . . .

Texas Gothic was a great, fun read. The characters were all enjoyable and the plot moved at a quick pace, and although parts of the plot were pretty predictable, the story was fun enough that it didn't really matter. I liked that the characters were in college, and I also liked the real-life bits about the dig and processing the bones and artifacts.

This book was perfect for a hot summer afternoon, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a fun read.