Hello guys, how are you all today?
You can find part 1 of this discussion HERE . I would suggest that you first read the first part if you haven’t and then come back here. But if you don’t want to, that’s absolutely fine, you can continue reading this post. (also, if you’re on WP reader, please continue reading this post here to enjoy better formatting)
In the first part, we talked about how a lot of MG and YA novels ignore parents, and often have the absent and/or dead parent tropes. I also shared the results of a survey I conducted, which revealed that most readers do not prefer such novels, instead they would rather have books where the parents do have a role to play in the story.
I personally agree with the majority. It is really important for MG and YA books to portray parent-child relationships, not only because most young readers will find the experiences relatable, but also because it is crucial for children (as well as adults) to understand the benefits of a healthy parent-child relationship and to learn to steer clear of unhealthy ones. If I have to make a list on the advantages of showing parental relationships in books, here’s how it would look like –
- As already mentioned, most readers will find the experiences of the protagonists quite relatable, and this will add to their enjoyment of the book.
- It gives the reader a chance to reflect upon his/her own relationship with their parents/children and judge whether it is healthy or not.
- The reader (especially if young) gets exposure to the different relationships parents and children share.
- It adds a little realistic element to the story, therefore getting the readers invested into the story and help them in empathizing with the characters all the more.
Parents definitely should have some role in the books, and this does not mean only biological parents. Adopted parents add to the story even more, don’t you think? The Book Thief and Keeper of The Lost Cities are good examples, I’ll be talking about them in the later part of this post.
There are books like The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, where there is some ambiguity regarding the identities of the protagonists’ parents. Something along the lines of I-never-knew-my-father trope, if you know what I mean? I wouldn’t really consider books like these to be the ones with active parents, but whenever the identity of the biological parent is revealed, there is a certain element of surprise which adds some enjoyment.
The Aurora Cycle, The Mortal Instruments and The Keeper of Lost Cities all have something in common – villainous parents. Of course, parents are wholly included in these books, but on the opposite side of the protagonist. Usually protagonists of such books have this internal struggle – whether to side with their parent(s) or their friends.
Many books revolve around the main character trying to find his missing parents, like Ash in Frostheart by Jamie Littler, or trying to get vengeance for their dead parents, like Nova in Renegades by Marissa Meyer.
Then there are books like Six Of Crows duology, which I think cannot be included in any of these categories (absent parents, dead parents or active parents). Colm Fahey, Jesper’s father, definitely made a great addition to the book, and I was really happy when Inej got to meet her long lost parents. Wylan’s father was one of the main villains in the first book in the duology. But the other three main character’s parents are absent or dead, and I don’t think I would have liked having them in the story anyway, for the reason that Six Of Crows was one of those YA novels where the characters are in the higher age bracket (17-18 years old).
There are a lot (though not as many as I would have liked) of books out there which show the ups and downs of parent-child relationships and impart valuable lessons along the way. I will now be talking about 8 such books that I have read and loved. You can click on the cover images to know more about the book on Goodreads and add it to your TBR!
The Miracle On Ebenezer Street: This book was so adorable! The entire plot revolves around George trying to get his father to enjoy Christmas (and life in general) like he did earlier, before George’s mother died. I went “Awww” so many times while reading this. This perfect Christmassy read will definitely cheer you up whenever you’re feeling low.
The Six Bad Boys by Enid Blyton: I must have read this book a gazillion times now, (my first time reading it was 4-5 years back and my most recent reread was a week ago), and it never fails to make me all teary-eyed. I think this is one of the best books there is for showing the different types of parent-child relationships there can be. I think the major lesson here is that it is too easy for children to be led astray if their parents neglect them and make them feel unwanted. And what impacted me even more was how young the protagonists were – Tom was twelve-ish and Bob was even younger. A must-read for all coming-of-age (and everyone else, of course!) readers. (And its quite short so it can be read in a single sitting. Seriously, read it and you’ll thank me later!)
The Flame Of Olympus: Apart from its wonderful take on Roman mythology, the major thing I loved about this was that the mc’s father accompanied her on her quest to save Olympus and the human world from falling! Do you realize how rare that is in MG fantasy? Usually, in a book like this, the protagonist would have lied to their parents and snuck off, but this was a pleasant surprise!
Keeper Of The Lost Cities series: The main character, Sophie, finds out that her ‘human’ parents whom she has always known and loved are not her biological parents since she is an elf. Since nobody knows who her real parents are, she is sent to live with an elvin couple, who in turn, are battling their own grief of losing their only daughter to an accident. I loved seeing their relationship slowly build from hesitant to loving. This does not happen entirely in the first book, but gradually throughout the series, making it even more impactful.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: Ah one of my favourite standalone novels of all time! So the main character is adopted, and her relationship with her foster father is so sweet! Though this relationship is a little sidelined throughout the novel, but that’s understandable because the story focuses on other much larger things. This book has gained a lot of popularity, so I am sure a lot of you have read this already, but if you haven’t, click on the cover image right now and add it to your TBR!
Matilda: You all recognize this one, don’t you? It was one of my childhood favourites, and so so good. Basically the main character is a sweet, incredibly intelligent girl who has got terrible parents who don’t care about her at all and provide an unsuitable environment at home for a little girl like their daughter. The ending (a happily ever after, I assure you) will definitely make you cry happy tears!
Misfit by Jo Zaida: I love how Elle (the main character) and her parents’ relationship grew through the course of the story, and the ending was just…*chef’s kiss*
This is releasing on 24th May 2021, so do add it to your TBR!
Buddy by Nigel Hinton: It’s been quite a while since I read this, but I do remember liking it a lot. The relationship between Buddy and his dad is the prominent theme in the book, so I would definitely recommend!
These were my opinions on the different fictional parents in MG and YA books. But why should this discussion stop here? This is why I am now adding a new feature to my discussion posts – I will be tagging some fellow bloggers to continue this discussion on their own blogs! April @Booked Till Midnight, Ashmita @the fictional journal and Pilar @The bookworm shelf, I would love to read your thoughts on this! You can twist and stretch this topic any way you want. No obligations of course, but if you do decide to do this, ping me back so I can read your posts!
What are your thoughts on the inclusion of parents in MG and YA books? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Did you find any of my recommendations helpful? I’d love to discuss with you in the comments section!