I wanted to say a little more about boys, books and what’s out there in YA. The position I have, I feel absolutely comfortable having because there are actual YA novels that speak to the male experience, and/or feature male protagonists. Boys have not been entirely shut out; they’re not in a position where they can’t see representations of themselves in their fiction.
YA novels about boys are absolutely less common, there are absolutely fewer male YA authors– but they’re not non-existent.
Using Harold Underdown’s numbers, we get 4000 new YA novels a year. At most, at the outside most, 100 of them will be lead titles. The ones everyone hears about, the ones with massive marketing pushes and publicity out the wazoo. The rest languish in the midlist. My novels are midlist; most YA authors’ novels are. They’re harder to find unless you already know what you want.
I believe completely and entirely that we, as a society, need to start teaching our young men that books about girls are for boystoo. But I also believe in putting books in hands, first and foremost. So I’d like to share a list of books featuring young men, many about the male experience, many written by men.
With a few exceptions, these are books that came out in the last couple years. I’m not going to dig back 10, 20, 30 years. You can find these novels on your library shelves or at your local bookseller right now.
Ashfall by Mike Mullin
The Afterlife by Gary Soto
The Barnaby Grimes series by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci
Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk
The Deathday Letter by Shaun Hutchinson
Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Dull Boy by Sarah Cross
The Demon’s Lexicon series by Sarah Rees Brennan
Flash Burnout by LK Madigan
The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander
Gentlemen and Trapped by Michael Northrop
Ghetto Cowboy and Yummy by G. Neri
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Harry Potter and the Absolutely Everything by J.K. Rowling
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I Will Save You by Matt de la Pena
Leviathan and Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Mamba Point and Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta
Maze Runner by James Dashner
Me and the Morgue by John Ford
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Percy Jackson & The Immortals series by Rick Riordan
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
Struts & Frets and Misfit by Jon Skovron
Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
Suck It Up and You Don’t Know About Me by Brian Meehl
The Vladimir Tod series by Heather Brewer
The World as We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
White Cat and Red Glove by Holly Black
will grayson/Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green
Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey
You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin
This list is by no means exhaustive. These are just some of the books that I have personally read in the last couple of years. I know I’ve forgotten some that I absolutely loved, and I apologize to those authors right now. My brain only holds so much! To get more fantastic suggestions, check out Guys Lit Wire and Guys Read.
Because those books that Robert Lipsyte swore didn’t exist in his NYT article– they’re out there.
The problem is not the books.