Compared to other genres, YA is very romance heavy to the point where I’m actually surprised if a book doesn’t feature some kind of romantic relationship.
I want to start by saying that I think that romance in YA books is important to represent. First love can be passionate and messy and it’s so important that teenagers can explore that in books and read about first time dates, kisses, love and sex. When romance is done right, I love to read about it.
But does every YA book need a hero?
I’ve read so many books where the main character hasn’t got a parent, or a best friend, but it’s unlikely that I ever stumble across a book where the heroine doesn’t have some form of love interest. It seems funny to me because growing up not all of my friends had boyfriends. Sure, boys featured in our lives from time to time, but it was our friendships that were the most important thing to us. As a teenager (and even as an adult) your best friends can be the real loves of your life and I’d love to see that represented more in YA.
There are so many massive life events that happen as a teenager that don’t involve a boy being at your side. Sometimes I feel like romance is added in for the sake of it and as a selling point. After all, the big YA books all feature an epic love story.
There are so many wonderful and inspiring books that I’ve read that cover new topics and bring fresh ideas to the table that still feature a romance that’s usually so small that I can’t help but wonder what it’s doing there in the first place. Is it really needed? Does it add anything to the story?
Just as we need books that represent diverse characters, I feel that we also need books that represent young single women. I think that it’s important to show that a happy ending doesn’t always involve that long awaited kiss with your crush. Your life and achievements can be enough; your story is just as valid and important despite not having a boyfriend. There’s so much more to a young woman’s story than her love life.
I think it’s about time that we showed girls that their voices matter, with or without a hero.