When I was 14, the opportunity to go to France with my French Immersion program presented itself. Of course, I was completely excited and raring to go. The only problem? $2,000 that my parents couldn't afford.
And so, something I wish I could see more in YA?
My family has never been very affluent. Not that we ever were in real financial trouble, just that we could never do anything like vacations (aside from weekend trips to visit family and stuff). So, I wanted to go to France? I had to get a job and pay for it myself.
So I did. I got a job at a restaurant and worked my ass off to pay for the trip. I went on the trip a year later. Kept the job, eventually bought myself a computer. Then, when I was seventeen, a car. This year I bought a new computer. Oh, and I'm paying for my own college tuition. And my situation isn't unusual. Where I live, having a job is the norm. You're a loser if you don't work.
Why don't more characters in YA novels have jobs?
Well, I suppose it could be boring to write. I mean, if your MC has a job, they have less time to go around gallivanting and getting into trouble.
But I think that afterschool jobs have so much potential as settings for all kinds of drama. Consider Elizabeth Scott's Something, Maybe. Hannah's workplace is where we get better acquainted with both love interests, and where all that drama unfolds. Also, I'm tired of characters that rely on their parents for money. We need more characters that are financially, and otherwise, independent.
Workplaces are such a rich mine of character interaction, and I really wish more writers explored them.