If you don't want to read the whole article, here's an excerpt:
“…in the classic stories, from “Cinderella” to “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” the hero’s parents are more likely to be absent or dead than cruel or incompetent. In fact, it’s the removal of the adult’s protective presence that kick-starts the story, so the orphan can begin his “triumphant rise” (as Dave Eggers put it in his memoir, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” after it actually happened to him). In the move to independence, the parent is all but forgotten, or occasionally pictured in a fond glow of love and regret.
And then the young adult novel came along.
Judging from The New York Times children’s best-seller list and librarian-approved selections like the annual “Best Books for Young Adults,” the bad parent is now enjoying something of a heyday…”
I find this especially interesting because in my YA novels the parents seem, so far, to play a key role - e.g. be an active participant and/or a key factor in the story. So, unlike what the article states, 'that their removal kick starts the story,' it is often the parents' behavior within the family that kick starts my stories.
Having said that, as I started to type this entry I then wrote: "And while the parents in my stories are often deeply flawed, they're not bad and they don't disappear (though I do notice that either the mother or the father usually play a stronger role, rather than both parents being integral...)" and then I stopped typing. Because I realized that, while that sentiment applies to the parents in The Pull of Gravity (my YA debut due spring 2011), it does not apply to the parents in my Work In Progress ("WIP"), Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me. There, the father has, indeed, abandoned the family, and the mother is a big, bad, bleeping mess. However, in both Gravity and Kerouac, at least one parent usually pulls through -- a phenomenon that may be attributable to the fact that the parents are never throw-away characters in my stories (again, needing to be removed for the story to begin), but rather are integral parts of the story.
What about you? What role do the fictional parents play in your novels and WIP's? Or if you're a reader rather than a writer, how do you feel about the portrayal of parents in YA fiction today?
*with thanks to Mary Walters linking this article to me.