Now, I apologize in advance if this discussion seems slightly more like a rant on my part. But I’ve discovered that I actually have quite a lot to say about this topic.
Not long ago, someone talked about this topic, and when commenting on their post, I saw that I was actually quite passionate about this – rant wise. I have a lot to say, and I need to get it out there somehow, so this is the topic of today’s discussion post.
So let’s talk about characters with absent parents!
I feel like every single protagonist in most YA books is missing either one of both parents.
And I just want to know…WHY???
Why on earth has it become a book trope for someone to be missing their parents? I find it so wrong that it’s been written this way so often that it’s actually a trope now!
I feel like lately, people just write out the parents of the protagonist for convenience. Because how inconvenient would it be if the main character was about to set off on this huge adventure and their mother/father wants them back by 10pm.
Now of course, absent parents happen. I know. Whether out of a divorce, break up, death, or simply bad parenting, there are countless reasons why people have missing parents.
So obviously it’s going to be written about. And as I’ve said before, there aren’t any topics that shouldn’t be written about, as long as they’re done is a respectful way.
But it’s honestly gotten to the point where us reviewers have started pointing out which books have a good family presence in our reviews, purely because it seems to be that uncommon. I even did this myself with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer not long ago. Her family were a big part of the plot, and to me that was so different and refreshing, I felt like I needed to share it…even though everybody has a family so it shouldn’t be shocking that the main character does too!
I just don’t understand why writing about the parents would be such a huge issue. Surely they’d add more to the story?
I mean, most of the time an author would write about a different character who cares and worries about the protagonist, whether they’re a love interest or friend. But why can’t this person who worries and frets…be the parents? It’s natural, would make the story more realistic, and could potentially add more drama to the story.
I just can’t help but think that writing about dead or otherwise absent parents purely out of convenience – to avoid that authoritive figure who could stop the protagonist doing things – is wrong. Again, YES it happens. YES it should be written about. YES it can add more to the story, if you think about books like the Harry Potter series, where it’s a huge part of the story.
BUT I just think it doesn’t need to be written about that often, just to avoid more explaining. Just to avoid an extra few conversations where the protagonist has to ask permission, or let their parents know beforehand. Or even to avoid a sneak-out scene to prevent being stopped by a person who actually cares for their safety.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the books I really love have characters with absent parents, for whatever reason. And I’ve never rated a book lower for this. I just think it’d be refreshing to see more families in books, and to see how they’d be handled in varying genres.
Recommendation for books with a family presence:
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Now it’s your turn to join the discussion!
What do you think about characters with absent parents?
Is it used too often and becoming a trope, or should it be written about more?
Why do you think it’s written about so often?
Does a character having absent parents affect your opinion of the book at all, like other tropes (such as the hated love triangles) do?
Is it a product of lazy writing, or does it usually add more to the story?
What books would you recommend that have a family presence throughout?
Join the discussion in the comments!
Until next time…
Come and visit me!