Friday, July 10, 2015

Domestic Violence in YA

I've just read two books in a relatively short period of time which have elements of a much larger issue and I've found it interesting enough that I wanted to talk a little bit about it today.

Over the past month, I've read both The Baby by Lisa Drakeford about teenage pregnancy and parenthood and also The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle a sort of magical realism novel about there being a season of accidents that affect one particular family that involves death, injury and general misfortune.  These two books don't have a great deal in common. They aren't issues books, the main focus of the story of either book is not domestic violence. But both books contain elements of violence between a couple.  And it really surprised me to see both of these books at least mention these types of relationships.  I count this as a step in the right direction as we have a bigger discussion about domestic violence and unhealthy relationships.

There have been other books I've read about violence amongst teen relationships. And I mostly 'enjoyed' these books too. Books such as Bitter End by Jennifer Brown and Dreamland by Sarah Dessen. There is But I Love Him by Amanda Grace and Stay by Deb Caletti. and those are just the books that *I* have read. If you have any recommendations, please do leave them in comments! One of these books in particular, (sadly I can't remember which!) the author has purportedly chosen to tell her story in reverse to stop readers from objecting and to show how complicated matters of domestic violence are and that it isn't always easy to point to a specific time and place and say 'a line has been crossed here, I will not accept this' and move on but is in fact a series of lines crossed and minor things happening until gradually things become more serious and reach a point where there isn't an easy way for the victim to extract herself.

And while I do think these stories are important, I also think sometimes focusing on something like domestic violence specifically means that usually just the most extreme stories are told. So while I think that these books should exist, so should the other stories in which domestic violence is mentioned alongside the other themes of  a larger story. Because I would hate for readers to read a more extreme case and think 'this isn't what is happening to me, so it must not be domestic violence.'

I really like that this is happening.  I like that I'm coming across topics and themes that I think are really important and I really do hope to see this continue!


  1. I was surprised and pleased to see domestic violence tackled in 'The Accident Season', and like you said, not for it to be the 'main event' but a side thread to the story. It's so so important that domestic violence and rape and abuse are shown in all their many guises in fiction rather than just the most extreme, because whilst the most extreme is definitely important too, you're right, people will read that and go 'oh, that isn't what happened to me, that must mean that what I've been through/am going through is ok' which is not good. I read something recently that had abuse as a side thread in the story but the book is now escaping me... But it's so important and good to see this issue staring to be handled like this in YA fiction. Great post!

  2. The one in reverse is But I Love Him! I read that a few years ago and it's really stuck with me - gorgeous book.x


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