Why Are Parents in YA Books Always Dead?

Seriously. Haven’t you ever noticed the pattern? From children’s chapter books to YA books, the main character seems to always have at least one dead parent. The orphan character has become an archetype that we tend to know and love–Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter, Orphan Annie. But why is this, and is it necessary?

Of course, there’s one obvious answer. A good main character needs agency. They need to be able to make choices and have freedom to go on an epic adventure. Children have to defer to their parents–but remove the parents and you remove an obstacle to the character’s quest. In this way, giving characters the freedom to make their own choices IS necessary. However, it doesn’t always have to be from dead or absent parents.

That being said, another compelling reason for dead or absent parents is the concept of the found family. In real life, very few people have perfect, loving families. Adolescents especially need to learn that family doesn’t just come from blood, and they can form bonds with non-relatives that is familial. Mentors and “father-figures” can create a good guidance, representative of a teen in real life finding an adult they trust. Because, let’s face it, a lof of families let us down.

But I also think it can be important to see what loving and involved parents look like in literature. It can show readers what a trusted adult should be like and provide a good concept for their own future parenting or mentoring.

Though absent parents are the trope and the trend, I think it’s time writers challenged themselves to write compelling families.

By myadventure2017

Writer, Reader, Bookstagrammer, Booktoker, Blogger

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