I’ve often thought about this. All the YA books I’ve read so far are either futuristic or contemporary. But never historical. And by historical I’m referring to the era before World War II. Contemporary YA writers almost never explore those eras, though there is plenty there. Teenagers from that era didn’t suffer any less conflicts and crisis in their lives than we did and do and will do.
They’re are plenty of historical romance and historical nonfiction writers out there. And almost all are either HR/ historical romance or nonfictional ones. Or written by writers from that era. And are about dashing dukes and some HEA chick lit or erotica. The covers have scantily dressed heroine with regally dressed handsome heroes.
Thinking about all the conflicts the teenagers from that era suffered, I instantly think of Rose from “Titanic”. Though she wasn’t portrayed like a sappy, doe-eyed Mary Sue or rough and tough Katniss Everdeen, she was a young adult. Though she sounded more like an adult. But it was only because she was suffering.
She had a lot of problems. Like teenagers from current age who suffer from self identity and isolation, Rose was too. She was forced to get engaged with a man in his thirties when she was just seventeen. He was dominant and misogynistic and male chauvinist too. Her mom understood nothing nor tried to. She had no dad or best friend to confide in. No nanny or chaperone either.
Then she met this gorgeous but poor guy who almost had “love at first sight” with her and to whom she could confide anything.
Sounds familiar, right?
Reminds you of Bella, though realistically.
That’s the thing. The teenagers from that era, I believe, suffered more than teenagers from current century or probably from the future. They had very little opportunity to socialize with people their age. Girls weren’t let to attend school and boys weren’t allowed to mingle with girls their age, always much younger. And there were lots of underage marriage, arranged marriages, parental problems, social isolation and lack of self identity.
Girls weren’t allowed to play or go outside unless with chaperones. Boys weren’t supposed to marry for love but money and virginity and beauty. That’s all. And these loveless marriages affected the offsprings too.
Think about it. All YA novels have almost the same thing. The protagonists have problems, they go through several crisis to get over it. More than “saving the world” and “chosen one” and “dystopian settings”, these settings and conflicts sound much more interesting and somewhat relatable.
With keeping that in my mind, my current WIP is set in 1973, but my previous two were set in the depression era and the Edwardian era. But they weren’t YA. So I’m planning to do my next project on historical, realistic YA, set in the Edwardian era. The protagonists will be teenagers, with Dollar Princess conflict and many more.
Hoping to start the project soon. But for now, au revoir