Is ‘sick-lit’ the budding new genre of teen romance?
These books-turned-blockbusters backdrop budding teen romance against raw topics like illness or death.
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There’s a hot trend in pop-culture right now and it’s got nothing to do with crystal-infused water bottles, restorative nap cafés or even the latest Fitbit. No, I’m talking about the rise of the terminal romance.
Popularized by such young adult films as The Fault in Our Stars and smash Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, these books-turned-blockbusters backdrop budding teen romance against raw topics like illness or death.
“Kids are dealing with these things — whether or not we decide to talk about them,” novelist Nicola Yoon said recently about the trend.
“I definitely feel a responsibility to be a part of that conversation but we can’t pretend these things aren’t happening.”
Yoon’s bestseller Everything, Everything is just the latest sobering story to see life on the big screen.
A tale about a teen with an extremely rare disease, Everything, Everything quarantines its protagonist inside her hermetically sealed home for her own safety. But when the handsome boy next door suddenly shows up, Maddy begins to risk her own health to join her would-be suitor.
“It’s just very unique in the way its told,” said director Stella Meghie of the inspiring novel.
“There’s drawings and text messages, lists and recipes and it just has a certain whimsy and quirkiness to it but the romance is classic — it’s Romeo and Juliet.”
Not unlike the Shakespeare mainstay, Everything, Everything doesn’t shy away from dark themes. But the rising trend of introducing such subjects as disease and death into young adult fiction has caused concern with some parents as well.
Nicknamed “sick-lit” by detractors, many say such content only romanticizes dark deeds and may provoke depression or other harmful acts among teens.
“Books don’t create behaviours,” defended If I Stay author Gayle Forman in Time Magazine. “What books can do, however, is reflect an experience and show a way out of difficult, isolating times” — a sentiment Yoon and Meghie certainly agree with.
“Kids are at such a pivotal stage of their life. I mean they’re trying to figure out who they are, who they’re going to be and they’re trying to figure out how to be a good citizen of the world, asking themselves these big questions about the meaning of life,” said Yoon. “These are great questions — adults should be asking them too.”