Can Young Adult Novels Be Too Harsh?

Or are the gritty stories what readers want?

My new novel, A Life, Redefined, is the story about a 17 year-old high school junior in Appalachia. Her name is Rowan Slone and her life has been tough. I mean, hard. And she’s not even 18.

We are introduced to Rowan when she is picking up the pieces of a tumultuous childhood that left her arm peppered with a dozen angry slashes, the only way she knew to cope. Her life is looking up, though. She’s not cutting anymore. She is asked to the Prom by senior, Mike Anderson. She wants to go to college and her grades are so good, she might get a scholarship.

But then, everything changes, and her life unravels so far that we’re (the readers, and Rowan herself) are not sure she will make it out alive.

The content of this novel is raw, heart-wrenching, emotional. Is it too much for a younger audience, targeted for ages 16 (in my opinion) and up? Or are these gritty story lines what readers want?

That will remain to be seen. This novel does not glorify cutting. It examines how this one coping mechanism is used by a girl whose life seems hopeless. I would hate to think that readers may interpret cutting as ‘cool’, or ‘the thing to do’.

Because that’s not the case at all. Rowan’s cutting of her arm has left her permanently scarred, both emotionally and physically. It affects her daily life, even down to what kind of clothes she can wear. She has branded herself, and she will never be able to leave that part of her past, even when she has moved on.

In the end, this book is full of hope. At least I hope readers feel that way. Rowan goes through more than any teen should, before she is even 18. But her story shows that life can always get better; that unexpected positives can enter your life at any time.

Rowan regrets the cutting. I hope her story helps readers realize that as sure as the sun rises, times will change. And if they are bad at the moment, there is always, always the chance they will get better. You just have to hang on and wait for the tides to change.

For more information on cutting, please research the topic.,

A Life, Redefined releases June 25, 2013. Find it at


Hope you all have a great day, Tracy

About TracyHewittMeyer

I love to write...anything and everything...aross genres and back again.
This entry was posted in Inspiration, Life, Self-harm, Story development, Write In Style, Writing, Writing Process, Young Adult and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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