For our anniversary we went to see Super 8 this weekend (and yes, that is what old marrieds do on their anniversary). Anyway, it was awesome, as I suspected it would be considering the inimitable JJ Abrams was involved (yes, I am a fan girl). It lead to a great discussion about kid empowerment in movies. You know what I mean -- movies that show kids can save the day too and go on adventures. Think The Goonies or Harry Potter. And, of course, this got me thinking about books and YA (as does every conversation I have these days).
There's been some debate over the missing parent syndrome in a lot of YA and MG books. Parents are either off on the sidelines, seemingly blissfully unaware their daughter's boyfriend is a vampire (seriously, gold eyes and deathly cold skin - wake up Charlie!), or dead, see Harry Potter and a dozen other books popping into my head at the moment. And a lot of people chock this up to being a plot convenience. To an extent it is (lot easier to run around with vampires and werewolves if dad's out fishing all the time), but part of the reason parents are a bit more absent is that these are stories about wish fulfillment. Who doesn't want to save the world, or be swept into a smokin' hot romance with the ultimate bad boy, or solve mysteries? In order to achieve wish fulfillment in books, we have to empower kids. We have to send them off to magical boarding schools or give them busy-career driven parents or just create a world with a little less parental oversight than might be realistic.
But isn't that the point of fiction -- to create a safe space where we can explore and experience whole worlds both real and fantastical. So while as a mother I'm concerned over the mortality rate I'd risk in the fictional world, I get it.
*P.S. I seem to be channeling William Goldman with the parenthesis today -- sorry. (Wait, William Goldman is awesome. You're welcome.)