Teenage Wasteland

I have had a realization that my YA series, Rebel’s Edge, really fits in with the troubled youth genre. When I wrote the manuscripts my goal was to recount the past in a narrative story form and out of respect to real life to change names, combine some characters, speed up pacing, and focus on the primary friendship in the story between Johnny and Gordon. I wrote in the perspective of a teenager who is experience it, therefore consequences are not thought about only the moment counts. Johnny has got a problem and he is out of control but does not realize it until it is too late. Writing about my self as character is weird. Decades have gone by and I am no longer the same person I was as a teenager. Time changes everything and memory fails and is subjective. The series is based on true events and hits close to home, so I guess it has taken time for me to register what it means to me. I feel it is more than a remembrance of crazy times, in that it is a cautionary tale of rebellious youth and deals with real issues of mental health and substance abuse.

One of my biggest problems was in what genre does the story fit and what other works are similar. The genre has elements of coming of age and edgy YA with adult themes. I wrote in a different style with no coarse language and some shadings of the way drug culture, sexuality, and violence are presented. Obvious choices for similar stories include That Was Then… This Is Now, 13 Reasons Why, Over the Edge, Lost Angels, and Afterschool Specials of the 70’s and 80s. All of these examples reflect some truth. That Was Then… This Is Now, hit home for me with the single mom and the two best friends, one who was having a hard time changing and ended up in juvenile detention. The story by SE Hinton felt more timeless than the classic period piece, The Outsiders. While Over the Edge showed the real disillusion of suburbia and rebellion gone too far as teenagers revolt and has a lot in common with the Afterschool Specials and similarly themed made-for-tv movies I grew up with. That series and some broadcast movies of the time did not always work, but when they did the stories rang true at least in the parts that were not heavy-handed. Some examples include the episode, Stoned, with its hidden blacklight room, or the television movie Desperate Lives about the ill effects of angel dust. Lost Angels, with Adam Horovitz from the Beastie Boys, got the reality of juvenile rehab correct along with the unreasonable thinking of a teen. Lastly, the current 13 Reasons Why shows that disaffected youth span the decades and problems of the past still exist today. In context of similar works, the genre for Rebel’s Edge is one of troubled youth.

Currently, the manuscript is under consideration in the long process of trying to find an outlet to publication. Submissions take a lot of time, but I feel the story needs to be brought to light to bring understanding to the teenage wasteland some youth experience.

DS

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