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”),

This article originally appeared in .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The New York Times

The New York Times7 min read
How to Disclose a Disability to Your Employer (and Whether You Should)
The invisible nature of my chronic illness protects me from a whole universe of discrimination and microaggressions, but it also insulates me from potential support. Of course, I acknowledge that my position is a privileged one. Some disabilities an
The New York Times2 min read
Have Dog, Will Write
You might be surprised to learn how many authors on the current best-seller lists have had help — well, sort of — from their dogs.
The New York Times5 min read
Where Are All the Bob Ross Paintings? We Found Them.
Bob Ross appeared on public television for 11 years. In 381 episodes, he taught America how to make a painting. But when one of our colleagues decided he wanted to buy one of these paintings, a simple search yielded odd results. There were hundreds o