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Thank you for stopping by! I'm so happy to be a part of the Sweetest Taboo Book Tour, presented by Goddess Fish Promotions! Today, the Author has written a real intriguing Guest Post for you all, and you will also see an Excerpt, my Review...and Don't Miss This...A Giveaway!! Read below to find out how to enter, because this Giveaway has some incredible Prizes!
On the verge: when YA lit crosses over into adult fiction
By Eva Márquez
According to Susan Carpenter from the L.A. Times, adults are increasingly reading YA books with no ulterior motives. Adults are attracted by well-written, fast-paced and engaging stories that span the gamut of genres and subjects, such readers have mainstreamed a niche long derided as just for kids.
But is all YA lit truly YA or does much of it, or any of it, cross over into adult fiction and if so, when does that happen?
According to writer Susan Dennard, there are four key aspects that differentiate YA lit from adult fiction:
1. The voice of the main character
2. The length of the book
3. How the main character views him/herself in the world and reacts to his/her surroundings
4. The depth of the point of view
Keeping those main points in mind, I will argue that my debut novel, ‘Sweetest Taboo’ is not a YA lit cum adult fiction piece of literature, but rather a YA novel for older YA readers. My logic for this argument is based on the 4 key ‘tenets’ of YA lit that were set forth above.
First, the voice of Isbael, the main character, is the voice of a, although a-typical and mature, high school student. The story takes off when she’s only 15, but follows her through until the age of 19. Now, having a teen MC is not, in itself, sufficient to qualify a book into the YA genre, BUT, the voice of the MC and its sincerity and authenticity is. Isabel is telling her story as she perceives it, from the eyes, perspective and voice of a teenage girl. ‘Sweetest Taboo’ is narrated by Isabel and not a 3rd person ‘all knowing’ narrator, thereby giving this story and novel the authentic ‘young’ feel.
Second, ‘Sweetest Taboo’ falls neatly into the length and complexity category for YA lit. According to Dennard, the standard rule for word count/length for a YA debut novel is between 50 – 90K. The complexity of the story needs to be appropriate for the shorter length. ‘Sweetest Taboo’ in first draft form exceeded this standard by approximately 10K words and included too many competing and complex plots that took away from the main story I wanted to tell, and that was the story about the romance between a student and her teacher. After many revisions and final edits, my debut novel was only 67K words in length and included one main plot, with a handful of complimentary plots closely associated to the main story.
Third, the MC in ‘Sweetest Taboo’ undergoes a transformation, or a coming of age, in this epic love story. According to Dennard, “YA often moves from a point of self-doubt to surety/autonomy, a point of selfish emotional concern to more selfless,” and we certainly experience that as we follow Isabel on her unique and controversial coming of age story. Dennard says that an MC should be “someone who questions if he/she made the right choice and who sometimes hesitates before decisions.” In addition, Dennard emphasizes “how a single line of self-doubt can really hype up the YA feel to your novel.” There is no escaping this truth about YA lit, which undeniably focuses on the emotional aspect of being young, of experiencing emotions for the first time, of learning how to deal with new emotions and making (sometimes good, sometimes very bad) choices based on those new emotions, and the consequences thereof. If ‘Sweetest Taboo’ is about anything at all, it is about this very aspect of moving from adolescence into young adulthood, about being overwhelmed with emotions, with choices, making choices from the heart and then having to suffer the consequences.
Lastly, Dennard says “
lots of graphic sex might fly in an adult book, but will usually be considered too much for YA. However, you can include a lot of mature situations in YA as long as you handle it well.” How does ‘Sweetest Taboo’ fare on the ‘content’ test? It depends who you ask! Some YA enthusiasts prefer very clean and graphic-free stories that are geared toward younger YA audiences. Others enjoy mature, but tastefully written mature content in their YA reads. This is where the readers makes their own judgment and decides for him/herself as to the classification of ‘Sweetest Taboo’. Yes, Isabel does have a sexual relationship with Mr. Stevens and although it is described tastefully, it still may be too graphic for some younger YA readers. Yes, the content is of a mature nature, since Isabel tests the waters and finds herself in a much-too-serious physical and romantic relationship with a man that should be completely off-limits to her. However, these are not issues, nor situations that do not creep up in our society, in our lives, in our communities and in our worlds. Isabel’s story could be anyone’s story, and that’s what I, as the author, believe is the most important take-away message from this debut novel.
Decide for yourself…is ‘Sweetest Taboo’ truly YA lit or does it cross-over to adult fiction? If so, why?
For Dennard’s excellent full blog article on YA vs. adult fiction, please follow this link: http://letthewordsflow.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/writing-ya-versus-adult-fiction-whats-the-difference/
I realized suddenly that I had gone from one extreme to the other in a few weeks. That was a mistake, and people were bound to notice. I couldn’t backtrack now, though – the damage was done. What was I supposed to say? “Yeah, I'm staying away from Mr. Stevens because I don’t want anyone to know I’m making out with him after practice” would never do.
“You know, he was pretty cool at first," I replied as nonchalantly as possible. “But one day I was late for practice and he made me go to the diving pool to swim laps. I’m not going to hang around with him if he’s going to be such a jerk, you know?”
That answer must have been good enough for Vicky, because she lightly tapped my shoulder and then jumped into the water to swim off. I laughed as I watched her swim away; she was doing the butterfly – badly – and bumping into other swimmers as she shimmied from side to side down the crowded lane. My smile faded, though, when I realized that she was probably voicing what everyone else had noticed as well. My sudden change of attitude had been just that – sudden and unexpected – and people were going to wonder why. I had to come up with a better story, and quick, or change my behavior again and hope that no one else said anything.
I wasn’t sure which option was best, or which would cause me more pain. Our late- afternoon rendezvous were becoming more and more intense, and my senses were becoming fragile. When I walked toward his classroom, now, I knew that there would be more physical contact, with less clothing. We hadn’t gone all the way yet, and Mr. Stevens was always very careful about my feelings – he asked me if I was okay with what we were doing every five minutes, it seemed – but we were both getting braver, and closer. I didn’t know if I could be close to him without really wanting him, but I was afraid of getting hurt.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was also starting to fall in love with him.
First, I just want to mention, that I really liked this story, and felt that it was unpredictable, which I liked, because it kept me guessing, even towards the end of the story. I think Isabel was a well written character, and just really liked reading her POV; understanding why she essentially felt for an older man (twice her age) at age 15. This man was her swim coach, who also was a teacher at her high school, and is known as Coach or Mr. Stevens, but to Isabel, he's Tom. I have read a few other stories that deal with this taboo like topic, a student/teacher relationship, but those characters are adults, and here Isabel's age ranges from 15 to about 19. She's of course young, but I was reading this with a total open mind, and I just thought it was written extremely well. Isabel's emotions/feelings are shown to us a lot, and I love that, because when characters are written to basically pour their heart out, their frustration, confusion, pain, love, etc. I feel I can just connect to the characters so much better, and Isabel is definitely a character that I felt can be seen as relatable and she's a believable character. I like how we see her grow to a more mature young adult, because from the first couple of chapters to the end, you will definitely see a new Isabel, and I'll just say, that I liked her even more with the tough decisions that she individually made, and, as said, her growth in character, to me was important, to connect with, to understand her journey of her first love.
I must say I was a little sketchy with 'Tom' at times, because I did want to like him, because, ok he says he genuinely loves isabel, and I believe him, but at other times, I definitely question about him. I see that the love that these two feel for each other is real, and the scenes to make me believe it, were wonderfully written. I definitely see this as a love story, but also a story filled with tough choices, and as you read it, you'll see what I mean, and at the end, I honestly wanted to read more, and must say, that I recently read an interview from this tour where the Author said that there will be a sequel, so I'm pretty thrilled about that, so before that comes out, I definitely suggest you read this novel, because, I feel that there were good elements that created an intriguing, lovely, and compelling story, so I do recommend Sweetest Taboo! :)
My Rating: 4.2/5
I say R-Rated (Mature Content/Situations I feel is for 17-18+)
Author Bio & Links
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, daughter of European immigrants, Eva Márquez has spent most of her life outside of her home country. At the age of five, Eva accompanied her parents to the United States, where the family settled permanently. After graduating from university, she went on to complete graduate studies in International Relations in Spain. Eva received her Master of International Studies degree from the University of Sydney and went on to work in the global health field in Sub Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Eva currently resides in Southern Africa.
www.SweetestTabooBook.com (website AND blog)
www.facebook.com/Sweetest.Taboo.YA.Book (FB Book page)
http://youtu.be/flff2TcA4AQ (Official Book Trailer on YouTube)
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