Myths from YA High

Myths from YA High

Hello bookworms! Today I’m bringing you a particularly fun discussion about a topic that I kinda consider myself an expert on: high school. Now that I’m officially a senior and school is starting up across the nation, I figured it was the perfect time to finally write this post!

I’m sure many of you have noticed, but the YA genre doesn’t always realistically depict high school. Authors (or even screenplay writers for movies and TV) take a few liberties when portraying high school students in order to liven up their stories. Usually, the characters either have a much more difficult, or much easier, high school experience than us muggles get. Well, having spent the last three years of my life traipsing through the hallways of a very REAL school, I have a few thoughts and issues to raise. So, here’s, my list of myths about high school that can be found in just about any YA book!

But first, a disclaimer: everyone has a completely different high school experience! So if you actually can relate to some of these, please don’t be offended. These are just things that I’ve picked up on over the years and wanted to share. And every school is wildly different, I’m sure many of these do exist at some high schools!

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Queen Bees

Okay, I love Mean Girls as much as the next person, but I don’t think any kid should go into high school expecting to face the wrath of Regina George. When I was a freshman, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my school was free of any power-hungry Queen Bees. Of course, there are circles of friends and even the more “popular” kids, but not a single ruling student with her mindless posse of followers. In terms of friends and peer pressure, everything is actually a lot more chill in high school than most books or movies would have you believe. And also, cliques aren’t just based on physical appearance or hobbies; there isn’t the group of “fat” kids or “band” kids or even “smart” kids. Everyone mixes and mingles a bit, personally I have a very diverse group of friends with a wide range of interests!

Mean Girls (Queen Bees)

No Homework. Just Partying.

And I think we’ve arrived at what’s probably my biggest pet peeve with high school in YA books – all of them seem to have a distinct lack of actual LEARNING going on! When I go to school, I don’t just stop at my locker or lunch table to talk to friends. I go to class, take notes, and dread the HOURS I will spend that night on homework. With AP classes, nearly my entire social life is shut down during the week because I have usually 4-5 hours of homework a night. No one sneaks out and goes to parties, we all have tests and assignments due the next day! And there’s certainly never time to deal with paranormal intervention or alien attacks from space.

No Homework. Just Partying.

Finding Your True Love

Actually, I lied. THIS is my biggest pet peeve. *EHEM* prepare yourselves for a rant my friends! According to EVERY YA BOOK PUBLISHED UNDER THE FREAKING LIGHT OF THE SUN, be it fantasy or contemporary, seems to think that teens must find their True Love/Soulmate/Partner for Life, by the time they turn 18. Lord only knows what happens to YA characters that just can’t make that cutoff. But I’ll let you in on a secret – it’s EXTREMELY rare to find the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with during high school! Not impossible (my own parents might have met when they were 17 but shhh that’s irrelevant), just very unlikely. Only ONE of my friends has ever had a meaningful relationship, and that lasted about a year. Most teenagers I know might go on a few dates or hang out with someone they like, but it typically doesn’t go far. And even more so, I know teens that just don’t bother with romance at all (*cough* me *cough*)! It’s not weird or abnormal; your attention is focused on about twelve-million others things, like, oh ya know, getting into college!

True Love

Texting With Obnoxious Abbreviations

I think this particular trope is starting to phase out a bit (thank god), but I still see it in the occasional YA book. Many authors seem to think that high schoolers can only communicate in texting code from the 2000s: “Hey, want 2 hang 2nite?” “GTG catch u l8ter!” “Gr8t! Can’t w8t 2 c u @ scool. TTYL LOL XOXO ROTFL!!” Not only does this get really irritating to read after a while, but it’s just not accurate. Texting abbreviations were invented when everybody had the keyboard phones where you had to click each number multiple times to get the right letter. With smartphones, literally every teenager I know just texts normally, with full sentences! Please, YA authors, don’t make us look illiterate over phone conversations, okay?

teen texting.gif

Locker Decorating

This might actually be a thing in most high schools, so maybe mine is just the odd one out, but in my experience no one decorates their lockers. You get assigned a new one each year, so it’d be a pain to put it all up and take it down over and over. Plus, when you only get 5 minutes in between each class, you’re lucky if you have time to open your locker, toss some books in, and go. Yet in every TV show (I find it’s mostly in TV shows), kids seem to have music stickers plastered on the doors and photographs hung from fancy mirrors. I even saw a locker chandelier at Target one time!

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Getting a Full Night’s Sleep

Oh, the sadness of this myth. At my school, sleep is a rare and highly coveted commodity. I go through each day fighting just to keep my eyes open and my mind sharp enough to answer some multiple choice questions. As a teen that really needs 9-10 hours of sleep a night, I’m lucky if I get 6. High school starts really freaking EARLY and it’s probably the bain of my existence. I don’t know how YA characters are able to go demon hunting in the woods in the dead of night, I’m too damn tired to even do my homework most of the time!!

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So there you have it, a list of some not-so-true high school tropes! Hopefully you all enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it, and were able to relate to a few of these. If you’re a younger reader and haven’t made it to high school yet, I hope this gives you a better idea of what to expect! Also, for the record, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is by far the most accurate representation of high schoolers I’ve ever read! Becky Albertalli has quickly become my favorite contemporary author for that exact reason.

What are some of the high school myths you’ve noticed in YA literature? Was your experience similar or different from mine? What are some books that you think depict high school well?

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13 thoughts on “Myths from YA High”

  1. There was definitely a “queen bee” and the “popular kids” at my school. Maybe that whole cliché skipped a generation hahaha. I agree that there is a significant lack of actual learning going on in YA. MAYBE they do 10 minutes of homework? Or talk about a project? But they never are shown (or described) actually doing anything. A magical homework fairy apparently does it for them. Also, while I did meet my husband during high school, I agree that the idea of meeting THE ONE shouldn’t be in every YA book (since it is actually really rare).

    1. If there’s a magical homework fairy for YA characters, where can I sign up for that?? 😛 But my parents also met in high school (and are still together), so it definitely happens!! I just wish that it wasn’t a thing in EVERY book. I’m sorry to hear you had a Queen Bee situation, I don’t know if that’s slowly phasing out, or maybe I’m just lucky at my school! <3

  2. So I confess I’ve never been to highschool (homeschooled here haha) but I totally get that books/movies would’ve amped things up a lot more.😂My little sister was in highschool and she didn’t have any of the huge cliques that go on in the books! Although I don’t know if it’s different again in Australia? But omg the homework thing!! And the true love thing!! Like sometimes wouldn’t you be so dead with exhaustion from all the study and stuff to not have time to find your OTP + save the world + pass highschool? We need an epilogue in YA books where they have to repeat their final year because that year they saved the world in, they failed all their tests.😂😂

    1. OMG PLEASE hahaha! Seriously, I have no idea how these authors expect teenagers to simultaneously save the world, fall in love, traipse around the globe with their band of heroes, and still make it into college! Not to mention, aren’t young adults supposed to get like 10 hours of sleep every night? I think I’ll sacrifice saving the world to sleep in, thanks 😛

  3. Omg, wht a gr8 post M! Totes <3 it!

    Seriously though, super accurate post! Especially that last myth about getting enough sleep – YA characters are never tired during the day even though they've been up all night doing whatever? And parties? I have no idea why YA authors think that there are huge, school-wide keggers every Friday night – definitely a lie!

  4. Good list. I didn’t even HAVE a locker in HS, tbh, I just carried my massive load of everything around with me. And the teachers had class sets of textbooks, so mine just lived at home so they would be available for my daily mountain of AP homework. To this day I cannot convince my mother that YES, I had 4 hours of homework a night, and NO, I wasn’t just doing it outrageously slowly. *rolls eyes*

    My high school was also a lot more chill than it’s ever depicted in the movies. But I find that more and more books are kind of getting that right. I mean, they don’t always show the studying part, because boring, but they aren’t making it like Mean Girls either.

    1. I definitely agree! Both of Becky Albertalli’s books, and the Lara Jean series are great examples of high school done right. I think slowly authors are catching up with the times. I feel you on the AP homework though, I’m currently drowning in it myself. My teachers also have class textbook sets, which is nice, but my backpack is pretty heavy with notebooks so I’m thankful for my locker!

  5. I agree with all of this! I graduated from high school a year ago and I was always SO exhausted. Junior year I got maybe 4 hours of sleep a night which was brutal. Like you, I pretty much had no social life outside of school. I mean, I saw all my friends in school so I didn’t bother to try and see them outside of school when I had a ton of homework to get done. A lot of times I’ll watch movies based on high school just to laugh about how unrealistic it all is (Pretty Little Liars is hilarious in this regard).

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. Oh yeah Pretty Little Liars is fun to watch as a crime drama, but I’ve never heard of anyone that had to deal with creepy serial stalkers and so much boyfriend drama during high school, lol! And wow 4 hours of sleep a night sounds brutal, I’ve had my fair amount of those nights but mostly I get probably 6 hours luckily. I definitely relate to the friend thing, it’s like, why should I spend my already precious time with people that I see for 8 hours a day anyways?! 😛

  6. Haha, great post and points!! Though these portrayals are enjoyable, I agree, they are not accurate. It’s been 12 years since I graduated, and I have some great high school memories, but I definitely don’t remember any of the YA situations popping up. Even from TV and movies, I don’t remember any of the cliche high school things at my school. For example, people always view cheerleaders and snobs and popular, the cheerleaders at my high school were super friendly, weren’t always the popular girls, and definitely were not snobs. A lot of them played softball, and a few of them were in band with me. We didn’t really have a designated “jock” group. We had no bullying that I saw, and there were never any major cliques either. I hope your high school is as enjoyable as mine was. Best wishes in your senior year!! It will be the best one. Enjoy it! <3

    1. Aw thank you! Everyone says that senior year is the best, I certainly hope that’s the case with me. And your school actually sounds very similar to mine, I guess we both got pretty lucky as far as high school goes! In my experience the cheerleaders are super friendly like you mentioned and a lot of them are really smart! I’m glad to hear that not all the undesirable YA stereotypes & cliches are true. <3

  7. I totally agree with this! Just started my junior year today, and I’m already exhausted. 😂 I feel like I really just don’t have anything in common with most YA high schools since I’m not a social person whatsoever, so when I have time to myself, it’s usually alone! I don’t know where the parties thing came from, but I have yet to ever see a high school party that wasn’t in a movie, show, or book, so I’m starting to think it doesn’t exist! People decorate lockers at my school, but not with anything permanent since it’s too much hassle to take everything out! I personally don’t because I grew out of it in middle school. 😝

    1. Omg happy first day of school haha!! And I definitely understand the introvert thing, I never go to any parties (though I have heard about them so I guess they sorta exist lol). I would much prefer to just stay at home and read my book! And for some weird reason we weren’t allowed to have lockers at my middle school, so I guess I really missed out on the locker decorating opportunities 😛

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