PULL is a contemporary YA. I tries my best to make the characters realistic, rather than impossibly noble and heroic. Really, if the typical guy on the street was a hero all the time what fun would that be? And at seventeen, the age of my protagonist David and his arch rival Malik? Those things are bundles of contradictions and hormones who act before they speak and are still working on the whole heroic thing.
So its interesting how adults vs kids talk about my characters and how they handle different situations.
The latest issue was a woman who reviewed my book and pounded on the section where Malik and two girls head off, ostensibly for sex (whatever, it all happens off the page). She went on about that and how appalled she was by the idea that kids actually did things like that. She disliked the idea of reality and therefore disliked my book.
Kids tend to look at other aspects. They're comments focus on things important to them. One tenth grade boy raved on about the friendship between the hero and another boy and how that helped the other boy's self-esteem. Kids accept David's choice while agreeing they could not follow it, and several have voiced concern over his future. The younger readers also voice concern for Yolanda, the rape victim, and understand how her trauma leads her to make bad choices about guys.
But the parents focus on the young men's sexuality. These guys are 17 already! They are going to notice girls. Even if we wish teens were different, they do care way too much about the opposite sex. But these are also the years when their brains are making the big push towards maturity, when they learn to think before acting, to control themselves and grow up to be the better for it. That's what I wanted to show. At least the kids get it.