Ask an author on a teen/YA panel at a literature festival “Is anything off-limits in writing for teenagers?” and I’ll give you short odds on the answer being “No”.
If you look at proto-YA classics (published before the YA genre really existed!) such as William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (published with an adult audience in mind but with teen protagonists) between them they tick practically every box on Teen Taboo Bingo:
- Coarse language
- Sexual references
- Mental illness
Today a teenager could ask for a book on almost any traditionally taboo topic and I’ll find you a writer who is prepared to take you there. Given our flagrant disregard for the concept of “unsuitable” topics for teens, are writers really the right people to answer the question at all?