Connecting to characters. Connecting to settings. Connecting to plots. Lately, in YA, the characters I've been reading about have seemed... like characters. Not like real people that jump off the page. Settings, which are usually some of my favourite elements of a story, have felt paper-thin and generic. And plots in general have seemed either overly-streamlined, non-existant, or tacked on. Basically, I'm frustrated with this not-being-able-to-enjoy-anything.
So I wrote a quick little list on a scrap of paper of some things I'd like to read about. In this post I'll tackle the first thing on the list. And that is...
Yes, I want to read about acne.
Acne is part of being a teenager. Whether it's mild and you just have a couple blackheads and the odd pimple, or it's terrible and it ruins your confidence, acne is something you have to deal with when you're a kid.
When I was 11, the acne monster hit me hard. Over the years it got worse and worse. I was like those awful 'before' pictures on infomericals for skin care systems. I tried everything, from ProActive to prescription drugs. Nothing worked for longer than two weeks - just when I'd think everything was getting better, my skin would break out and be even worse than before.
Finally, at 17, I was put on an extreme last-resort medication called Accutane, which I'm still on two years later. It has a lot of side effects, potentially dangerous ones, and I require monthly blood work to make sure I'm not, y'know, dying basically.
But anyway - my case is an example of how acne affects you as a teen, from the beginning of puberty into adulthood. And it affects me more than just medically. I had to endure teasing for many of the years I struggled with bad acne. Not just little jabs and sniggers, either. A few times I had perfect strangers tell me what older boys at my school said about my appearance, and when I was feuding with a former best friend I had to hear reports of her badmouthing me, too. It was a very painful experience.
Since I experienced all that in real life, I'd really like to read about it in teen literature. I really wish there was a book about this kind of experience, because it could have made me feel a hell of a lot better about myself. I wish there was a book about a character dealing with more than just the odd zit every now and again, a book that didn't make acne into a trivial little thing. I wish there was a book about someone whose life was being drastically affected by their skin like mine was.
Maybe I'll write that book someday.