I’m not even sure where I saw this description.
Once, maybe twice, maybe a handful of times. Here and there, scattered around several books that it really shouldn’t have stuck in my mind.
But it did?
I mean, it did.
I was utterly confused, at first, seeing that comment. YA characters? As role models? Never even crossed my mind. There are a great deal of characters I love – but they aren’t exactly “role model” material, and it’s never occurred to me to look out for characters who are “role model” material either.
Truthfully, I think it’s pointless to try to make YA characters as role models.
One of the big reasons I read YA is to see myself – me, with all my wonderful problems and questionable morals – and I sure as hell ain’t worthy of being a role model. And if authors suddenly start churning out books with, y’know, Perfect Sue or Perfect Joe from down the street who you absolutely must adore because look, what a great role model! I’d probably roll my eyes hard enough for a migraine.
Sure, make them nice, make them with good personalities that every parent wants ingrained in their child, but don’t make them “role models.” That’s like disguising a “How to Behave” pamphlet as a YA book and shoving it down teens’ throats. Not fun. Not pleasing. And certainly not what I signed up for when I picked up a YA book.
It’s not like I’m saying write a book where it doesn’t show the consequences of things; not at all. Those books with consequences shown in all their harsh reality can service as an abrupt wake-up call, which I think some of us may need (myself included.) But it shouldn’t read like a commercial: “See, kids? That’s what not to do! It’s bad, very bad! Be like Perfect Joe so this will never happen to you!”