Summer is always the times that the feels come out for me. It’s just something about the season. It gets warmer, it’s lighter longer, and it’s full of great summer things like camping, sitting out on the porch to read, and fun adventures to the beach or zoo or other outdoor things (i.e. things Mandy doesn’t do because BUGS). It’s just a time that screams contemporary and all the fluffy feels from books.
As I’m about to bring myself into a spiral of contemporary and realistic fiction books, I realized that I was forever asking myself just how realistic I wanted for my contemporaries? I mean, I’m not talking about darkness and deepness – I’m talking about just how much of little realistic additions in a book I want? So, today, let’s talk about…
How realistic do we want our realistic fiction books to be?
I mean, let’s think back to the last 3 contemporary books that we read. When’s the last time we actually read about our main character going to the bathroom. Or having a period if it’s female main character. Or blowing their nose. Or sneezing. Or taking a shower. Or BRUSHING THEIR HAIR.
I mean, it’s simple things. Simple things that most of us do every single day. But where are they in contemporary fiction? If it is mentioned, it’s something usually throw away. A person is blowing their nose or sneezing when someone is sick. A person takes a shower to make tension when being stuck with someone they like or to think things over. A person goes to hide in the bathroom in an awkward party but not to actually use it???
I think the book that really prompted this all was Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett. I absolutely adored this book about two haters to lovers who get stuck in the wilderness after being dumped by friends on a camping trip. This book is full of self-discovery, self-journey, love, and so many feels. It’s basically the ultimate YA summer book.
However, a few times, I would be pulled out of the book with random stupid questions. I mean, these two are stuck in the woods out in the middle of nowhere. Where are they peeing? I mean, that would be such an awkward situation to be like, “Okay, Lennon, I’m totally feeling the feels with you, but, um, I must go pee around this tree now.” And then the whole shower situation??? Like, do you really want to be making out with greasy hair and a sheen of sweat because it’s hot???? I MEAN. I would be all over here panicked, spritzing my Bath and Body spray all over my body (aka so the mosquitoes can then feast on me and I get even more attractive with my little red bumps) and crafting a hat (I really mean a crown because I mean, this is me, princess lover) out of twigs to hide my hair.
But is any of this mentioned? Erm, not in any detail and not in any descriptions that I remember. It was questions that I had. And then promptly forgot because FEELS were HAPPENING and I just wanted to be in camp land without the bugs.
Also, not bugs are never mentioned in YA, and I’m not okay with this, because I have like panics 3 times a day when I see a bug and how are these YA heroines and heroes not on my level??????
I guess the real question is are we really missing anything with these moments? I mean, do I really want to read about our MC going to the bathroom? BOOK NO. And I do really want to read about bugs while I’m waging my daily war with the bug population around me? Erm, no thanks. And do I really want to read an entire paragraph about the MC getting everything ready to go for the shower? Well, I mean, BORING.
However, I do find myself wondering…why aren’t these things mentioned? Everything is skated by. And I mean, I get it. It’s unnecessary and boring and we have feels to feel. Plus, we’re reading to escape. But sometimes I think it takes a bit away from the realism factor. I’m at the point now where all YA characters don’t eat unless at a family dinner, never use the bathroom, never have periods, are in bug free universes, and don’t understand the proper time to use showers.
Conclusion (because, seriously, this must come to a conclusion)? I’m not really sure. I don’t know if I want YAs to become more “realistic” if it’s going to include paragraphs on real things that I’m going to skip over anyway. But it’s still weird realizing all of the things that these books don’t include and trying to compute that. So do I really want anything to change? Eh. TBD.
So, what do you think? Do you want more realism in your books? Do you all the little things or are you SO good without? Have you found books that get super detailed with the moments? Let’s discuss in the comments below!