I made a big book revision decision. I’d gotten to 55,000 words and changed course. It’ll probably happen again, too. Sometimes I have to get to the climax to realize, hey, I’m not feeling too sorry for these characters. Something isn’t right. I got to thinking that a book about sunken treasure needs some kind of monetary motivation for the characters. You know, like saving the Goondocks. Seems so obvious now. Why in the world hadn’t I picked up on that before? So I starting thinking about how other contemporary YA books deal with teens and money. It was kind of a stretch to come up with any. In my memory bank of YA books, money is usually explained by summer babysitting. Rarely even, does the main character hold a part-time job. College expenses are normally not an issue either. What I have seen a lot of is a minor character who has a rich/popular arch nemesis. Or, there’s the rich bitch main character who’s going to learn to value something other than social status. But what I’m talking about is why books don’t deal with how teens get their money. Leave comments about books you’ve read that more than mention a main character’s financial situation.
Here’s what I think it is: American teens don’t have much financial autonomy. I think parents are paying for a lot. Any kind of jobs teens have are a practice run. I was always taught to put some money aside for car and college, but I knew a large portion of my college was paid for and all of my necessities. I think that’s probably still the case for most. This is a pretty gross generalization, but maybe that’s why we don’t see financial stress reflected it our contemporary YA characters. There just isn’t much of that for teens. Would you agree? So, it becomes tricky to write about financial strain. If the financial burden is on the teen’s parents, then that’s who needs to suffer, and suffering is the job of the main character, so it must trickle down somehow.