Discussion: Common teenage stuff you never see in young adult contemporary


teen stuff that's never in YA

Young adult fiction gets a lot of stuff right, but sometimes the lives of the teens inside are so alien that it makes contemporary feel like fantasy.  After a conversation with the lovely @theshenners, I was curious what other readers of YA (mostly contemporary) noticed is missing.  What typical, normal, common teenage things do they just never see in YA books?  

I got a lot of answers.  


And like- how HARD and time consuming some extracurriculars are! Like it seems like people in sports and such are never actually THERE.

Honestly? Periods. They're a thing and IT HAPPENS but I hardly ever see them mentioned.

Teens who actually LIKE hanging out with their parents.  

Tiny parties? Every HS party I went to had, like, 6 people max.

Dealing with parents and their expectations about ALL the things.  Fighting over little shit- just because that happens!

Also, I rarely see kids who are like, panicked about making choices about their future. Everyone's always like "can't wait to get out!"

I see periods mentioned but also... period uhh mishaps that happen- especially in high school, it seems.

Or just navigating weird body stuff in general.

honestly, cleaning. i mean, unless you live in a pigsty, you gotta clean your room, bathroom and house. and i wanna see it happen.

I wanna know how they are able to sneak out all the time. There was no way I could have ever snuck out of my parent's house. πŸ˜€

Another answer: band and sports characters going on away games or overnight tournaments/competitions.

Minimum wage work.

Also wearing uniforms.

Clothes shopping and the perpetual struggle of trying to be In and Cool. πŸ˜‚

Periods πŸ™„

Yeah, I'll be That Person and say "masturbation."

running into ppl you used to hang out with but don't hang out with anymore and having to make conversation bc ignoring them would be weird

getting dragged to go grocery shopping with your parents & feeling slightly embarrassed by your parents bc you're trying to be a Cool TeenπŸ˜‚

this is a tough one, because I haven't read TOO many YA contemporaries- but I think parents having to drive you everywhere.

No one in YA takes the bus. They all have friends with cars.

How has no character ever gotten to school and realized they forgot tampons?

Well I know a lot of people in YA tend to have jobs already, but like getting a part time job at 16 is hard??


There you have it. Periods, riding the bus, serious sports players, and ... periods.  As we get more voices and more diversity in YA, we can only expect the variety of experiences in YA contemporary to grow. Already we're getting awesome books like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas that delve into some experiences that black teens face but have heretofore been seriously underrepresented in the YA world.  Here's hoping the trend continues! 

Your turn!  Are there books you know that represent these trials of teenage-hood? What typical teenage things do you think are missing from most YA books? 


  1. I feel like there needs to be more with the little anxieties that come from high school. Freaking out over exams, or even answering questions in class, or how for most people the perfect set of friends doesn't always magically appear!

  2. I just read Ramona Blue yesterday, and she referred to her period as (may not be an exact quote, but it's close) a step below a crime scene. I can't remember what book it was, but I remember the girl got her first period and her boy-best-friend noticed, and wrapped his jacket around her waist, which was so sweet. I think I am seeing it more, along with more sex positivity, in YA.
    Sam @ WLABB

  3. This is such a fab post! With so many things I never even thought about. We need more realistic YA books! :)
    Megan @ http://wanderingsofabookbird.blogspot.co.uk/

  4. Yesss. Also birth control! Everyone I knew was taking it in. Though maybe high school you don't have access to that? I don't know I think you could have access to it, especially now. BECAUSE PERIODS, and I guess sex too but mainly periods :)

  5. I agree with the person who mentioned how all-consuming extra curriculars can be. It seems like school activities can easily consume ALL of life, which gets to be a lot of pressure.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  6. I'd settle for just having the parents be present and supportive in YA! Great topic. :)