No, I am not talking about my own intoxicated indiscretions (which I don’t even admit to having). I’m talking about books. In April, I declared drunk driving/drunk decisions as the season’s trend in YA fiction, and time has been giving me more evidence for my wild assertion.
Case in point: Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger and 37 Things I Love by Kekla Magoon. I’ve added both of these to the growing list of 2012 titles that take on the bad things that happen when you get wasted. It isn’t just about driving. Actually, neither of these books take on drunk driving or any of the potentially dangerous things that might happen when you’re too drunk to think straight. They’re mostly about embarrassing yourself.
In Midsummer’s Nightmare, Whitley parties hard and often, but when the summer with her dad doesn’t go as she thought, she is forced to take stock of her life. It is basically a just-for-fun chick lit title that will appeal to older teens, but the unreliable narrator and a strong, assertive heroine that may draw in a deeper audience.
37 Things I Love isn’t about drinking, and it isn’t really the light read you might guess from the cover. It’s about the complexity of family and connection. Ellis is dealing with some heavy family stuff and watching her best friend Abby make poor decisions (such as getting drunk at a party and doing a strip tease that ends up getting her mocked mercilessly in school). The result is a thoughtful novel that is well worth reading.
For the most part, I don’t think that the books I’ve pointed out that take on this issue are trying to demonize alcohol. There is a bit of moralizing, I suppose, as the point seems to be to examine why we choose to drink, but overall, these are good stories with real situations that, perhaps, will help readers to get beyond black and white.
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