Parents are hard to do in youth literature. They're missing or the problem or just not really there. If they're not driving the plot (as the problem), they have to be on the sidelines in order to let the teens take center stage. You can't have too much deus ex parentis, or it's a weak book. Parents that are good and supportive, part of the story, without getting in the way? They're hard, and they're rare.
February is Parent Leadership Month, so in honor of that, here's a list of books with some kick-ass parents, or at least decent ones.
Airhead by Meg Cabot. In general, Cabot has excellent parents. I chose this title, because Em's parents have a very fine needle to thread after their gamer daughter gets her brain transplanted into a supermodel's body. Inside, she's still Em, but technically, they're not supposed to know her at all.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling. Sure, Harry's mom sacrificed herself to save his life, but let's be honest, it's the Weasleys who earn the parenting awards here, not only for their own kids, but for the ones they collect along the way. Chamber of Secrets is where we first really get to know them.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Ok, so Mia's parents die pretty early on in this book, but luckily, there's a lot of flashback. I love how her parents are supportive and wonderful, even though they weren't great (although they tried) when she was younger. The sequel, Where She Went is definitely worth the read.
I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It by Adam Selzer. Alley is the Ice Queen of the cynical, sarcastic kids of her Des Moines high school until she meets a great guy--who just happens to be a zombie. Alley's parents are great in learning about the undead life and being supportive of the relationship, while still not letting Alley throw her life away on first love.
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. Ever since the Days of the Unspeakable, when the royal family was murdered and Lumatere cursed, Finnikin has been roaming the neighboring kingdoms, checking on the refugees. His father, head of the Royal Guard, has been a prisoner. Guys, Trevanion is gruff and rough, but so wonderful. So wonderful. The first in a trilogy, the third Quintana of Charyn comes out in April. Cannot wait.
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter. Cammie can ace spy school and is an expert at trade-craft, but general romance is a little harder. Of course, when your mother is the head of the spy school, things are even more complicated. I love how Cammie's mom balances the line of teacher/school head/single parent. The first in a series, the second is Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy.
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. Lola's not sure what's going on now that Cricket Bell has moved back in next door. When her birth mother shows up, things are harder. Lola's birth mother isn't getting any awards, but her dads certainly are. They're funny, supportive, and protective when needed.
Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (maybe) by Kimberly Pauley. Mina has to take vampire classes after school to see if she wants to become one, like her parents. Mina's parents are sympathetic and supportive of the impossible choice Mina faces and, in the end, are the reason why she decides what she does. Check out the sequel, Still Sucks to Be Me: The All-true Confessions of Mina Smith, Teen Vampire.
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison. Georgia is mainly preoccupied with her love life, but readers will fall in love with her insane cat, mad toddler sister, crazy parents, and the Bison dancing of the Ace Gang. Georgia's parents are a source of constant embarrassment, but they're there, they know what's going on, and have some sage advice, if only Georgia would take it.
Who are your favorite parents in teen literature?
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