Unbound (All Good Things #1) Available on Amazon/Smashwords/Unknown (All Good Things #2) coming soon.

Monday, 27 January 2014

If I Were a Boy

The male POV is scarce in YA. Which kind of makes sense given that YA is consumed, for the most part, by young girls, young women, and not-so-young women. That's not to say that some young men don't read YA - I know they do, I'm glad they do - but they won't find many same gendered narrators to connect with in this genre. Given that a lot of YA is written by women, if you follow the "write what you know" edict, it's easier to tell a story from the safety of your own gendered experiences. 

I've been thinking a lot about the male POV as I write Unknown. I wanted to pay more attention to Eaden's story in this book and consequently, I've been playing with writing some chapters in a third person narrative from the male POV. I want to do this well, but it's new and I've realized that I don't know much about being a boy. Don't get me wrong, I like boys and men. Very much. I married one and am really proud to be raising another. But I'm not sure I always understand their social experience or they way they communicate how they feel. As a result, I've been paying more attention lately to the male POV in the stories I read. And I've thought back on the male characters whose voices I've heard; how they talked, what they did, what they liked, and most importantly, how they reflected on their experiences (or didn't, for that matter). 

Below is my list of some of my favourite YA male characters, old and new, whose stories were told (mostly) from their own perspective.  

1. Park Sheridan from Eleanor and Park by Rainbow RowellI want my son to be like Park when he grows up. Curious and open-minded and committed to being a decent human being. Park is also the kind of guy I totally would have ignored in high school. Because I was an idiot in high school. 

2. Adam Parrish and Gansey (aka Richard Campbell Gansey III) from the Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: Sigh. My love for The Raven Boys runs deep. Adam Parrish has made me wish hard that I were Blue. And Gansey, almost-on-the-spectrum-Gansey, circumvents all the stereotypes you find in books about rich boys. These are complex young men who have rich and colourful relationships with each other. If I could live in any book, right now I'd choose this one so I could spend more time with these Aglionby boys. 

3. Adam Wilde from Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman: This book left me wanting more of Adam Wilde. His narrative was raw and painful, but also funny and self-aware. It would have been so easy for the story of a rock star to veer into hyperbole, but Adam's story felt true in a way that surprised me. 

4. Finnikin and Froi from the Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta: What? You've never heard of Marchetta or the Lumatere Chronicles? If you like high fantasy, get thee to a bookstore (or the interwebs) post haste. You'll want to meet these two young men, I promise. 

5. Noah Hutchins from Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry: Noah is a bad boy. I spent so much of my adolescence pining over a bad boy that I have little tolerance left for this trope. Noah won me over though. Yes, he's flawed and full of angst, but you never doubt that he's going to figure out how to move through the world a little less destructively. And he's sexy. There's that too. 

6. Thomas McKee from The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta: Another bad boy. But mostly just a mess. The kind of boy I would have tried to fix because he just seems so broken. It took me awhile to warm up to Tom, but once I did, he had me bawling like a baby. Marchetta does a great job of showcasing Tom's vulnerabilities almost as if he's unaware of them. We see why he hurts and when he catches up with the rest of us, it's lovely and painful to watch. 

7. Bugs Potter and Adam Webb from Who is Bugs Potter? by Gordon Korman: I haven't read Who is Bugs Potter? in several decades but I could probably describe particular scenes in great detail because I loved this book so much. Bugs is fantastic - funny and talented and completely oblivious to the trouble he causes. His friend and roommate, Adam Webb, is the quintessential straight man and together these two have a ton of chemistry. 

8. Rudy Miller and Mike Webster from I Want to Go Home by Gordon Korman: See above. Ah, Rudy Miller. Funny, taciturn, bored, and good at everything he tries. I loved Rudy when I was a girl. I loved his funny one-liners, his devotion to running away, and ultimately, his ability to recognize a good time when he saw it. 

9. Nick from Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: I've met a lot of guys like Nick and although I've never heard their interior monologues, my guess is that they sound a lot alike. Nick is insecure and full of philosophical angst and so in love with being in love that he doesn't realize what he's looking for. At times I found him annoying, but he always felt very genuine. And really, most of the guys I know that remind me of Nick annoy me too. 

10. Adam Farmer from I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier: It's been a long time since I read this book, but I've never forgotten how scared I was for Adam while I read it. Adam's story is creepy and lovely and sad, all at the same time. 

Your turn. Do you have a favourite YA story from the male POV that I missed? What do you recommend? 

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