I am the veritable master of the hot-button topic. I don’t have a problem writing about them, heaven knows I’ll share my opinions on them, and there’s not a subject I’ve come across that’s prompted me to set down a book because it’s just “too much.”
In the last couple years of really examining the YA market as I decide where my own work could best fit, I feel like I’ve run the gamut: stockholm syndrom, rape, transphobia, cult activity, pray-the-gay-away movements, terrorism, suicide, the list goes on. Early on in this journey, I remember stumbling across a novel on the incestuous relationship of a brother and sister and thinking, “Good for this, being so popular! This is about as taboo as it gets.”
Apparently not, because there’s a pretty obvious gap in my list.
Where are all the abortion books?
Scratch that. Let me try again: Where are all the focused, recognized abortion books?
I can plug “YA books dealing with abortion” into Google, and there will be results. I can get the self-published one and the ones nobody’s heard of. I can get that one that’s really well-known, but further investigation reveals the pregnancy and subsequent termination are symptoms of the plot, not root themes. I can get that one that’s sort of popular because it’s told from the boyfriend’s POV (And don’t even get me started on what I think of that).
And oh, sweet, holy Batman knows I can find dystopians on where abortion laws are headed.
There’s the abortion story fake-out, where we find out towards the end of the book that a character elected to have one some time in the past, and of course there are so many books on teenage pregnancy which don’t go the abortion route that I could spend all night linking to them.
And isn’t that just a quaint, little reflection of reality. Even in the most tolerant of communities, there’s not much room for a woman to own a decision like this. There may be general agreement that abortion is an option, but go, get it done, and move on with your life. Keep it off the page.
What I keep scrolling through list after list hoping to stumble upon is the novel that I would want to turn to as a
holy shit completely terrified nervous, probably somewhat confused teenage girl. Where is it? Where’s the book that follows this journey from conception through to the clinic? The one where a we see a character drowning in those tumultuous feelings of guilt and shame and relief—you know, those same emotions thousands of young adults out there are experiencing? And then they have to go back to school and the one person they confided in accidentally let it slip, and the whole school knows. The whole town knows. The whole world seems to know and ostracize them for being a “baby killer.”
Where are the books for those girls? Chances are they really need them.