The Bookish Planet is back! Today I’m talking about something that all of us Northern-Hemisphere dwellers are encountering at the moment: Summer. Summer is a very unique setting, particularly in contemporary YA. If you’re thinking of visiting, there are details below.
Description: The Summer (also known as The Summer When Everything Changes) is a popular setting in YA contemporary books. In summertime, people have nothing to worry about because there is no school. But then they get (select up to three) a)romantic relationship/s, b) a road trip, c) dying/dead loved ones, d) a job, e) a mystery, f)a car, or g)a wild party where something goes wrong so then there is something to worry about. But it’s easier on everyone, because there’s no school, which means that there’s as much freedom as you please. Summer means that you hang out with your friends all the time and don’t have to care about your family or have household responsibilities. It’s also inevitable that some great big adventure will happen, because summer is nothing without plot. (The plot is often related to the stuff that people worry about. See above.) To qualify as summer, all you need is a break from school and lots of sunshine. In Magical YA Land summer is never cold or rainy. The most important thing about Summer is that the author has time for drama to develop between their characters without having to bother about school, because everyone knows that time in school is sort of useless and nothing interesting every happens there.
The People: A huge variety of people inhabit Summer. Teenage girls between the age of sixteen and nineteen; teenage boys between the age of sixteen and nineteen; the odd adult if they’re needed as a plot device; and sometimes said teenage boys and girls even have an ethnicity that isn’t white. Very occasionally they’ll live in a place that’s not the US. Some of these occupants are Andie, Taylor, Amy and Emily (from Morgan Matson books), Vanessa and Ally (Behind the Scenes), Emi (Everything Leads to You, Caymen (The Distance Between Us), Ally (Just One Day), Samantha (My Life Next Door), Leeda, Murphy, Birdie (Peaches), Mika (Fish out of Water) and Aaron (More Happy Than Not) as well as LOTS of others.
History: Summer is as old as the earth (like literally). But it’s only been a Thing in YA fiction since YA fiction was a Thing, so maybe since the mid-1960’s. But in books from all time you can find Summer. Also Spring, Autumn and Winter, but summer is especially distinctive.
Where to Stay: The nice thing about visiting summer is that it’s always warm. So if you don’t find a hotel, or no-one wants to let you stay with them, you can always sleep outside. (Don’t worry; because it’s Summer there will be parks or something. No grimy-inner city housing exists in Summer. And sleeping outside doesn’t equal homelessness. It’s an adventure… hey, that could be the plot for a novel!). But Summer means friends, so if you’re not at home, you can always crash a friends house.
Places to Visit: If you’re not involved in Something Exciting during Summer, there are still exciting things to do. Find a party full of drunk teenagers and observe, judging their bad life choices (remember: those bad life choices catalyse The Summer that Changes Everything™). There’s inevitable a beach nearby; everyone knows that Summer doesn’t happen inland. You can go to the beach and read, judging Summer’s inhabitants Bad Life Choices in not applying sunblock. And there’s also probably a movie cinema if you want to go watch movies. There might even be a pool! There sure are a lot of things to do in Summer.
Tell me about one of your favourite summer contemporaries in the comments!