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Working Teens in Young Adult Fiction

In much of current YA literature readers will find the that the main character is well off, does not have to work, travels often, and has everything designer (car, clothes, electronics, etc.). This does not reflect the reality of most teenagers or new adults, today. While it can be nice to read about something that is different than one’s daily life, characters should also be relatable.

I work at a school library and I see kids every day that come in to finish their homework, sometimes forgoing their lunch, because they have to work directly after school and do not get home until 11 o’clock, or later. Then they wake up and do it all over again. They deserve a lot more credit than they appear to receive. The following list of books includes characters that work while going to school or managing another difficult aspect of life. They work to get what they want. These are often things that teens today have to do. Many come home from school, change and head to work, then finish their homework after getting home late at night. These real teens are strong, hard workers. It is important to show them that they are not the minority and that the idealized life is not necessarily one where someone has everything handed to them. Some of these situations may not be ones that your average teenager might find themselves in, but the work ethic is very relatable.

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There’s one for you, nineteen for me…

Pennies, nickles, and quarters
Image courtesy of flickr user pleeker
They say only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. While some characters in young adult novels definitely have to worry about the first (I keep hearing about this book called The Hungry Games? Or was it The Hunger Names? Have you guys heard about it?), most teen chacters only have to worry about the second. Lots of teens in young adult novels work in movie theatres or at restaurants. These characters, all featured in books that came out in 2011, will have something a little more unusual to put on their 1040s:

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