When my Del Rio Bay Clique series was announced in February 2006, Girls Life Magazine
debuted it on their blog in one of those "check this book out," promos.
Love to Girls Life!!
For the week my book was the feature, I lurked on the blog and read the comments from readers - always a dangerous thing for an author, who at the time, was still trying to thicken her skin for criticism of any type.
The comments ranged from curiosity to outright hateration.
The curious ones were typically readers who already enjoyed "clique" books and saw my book as an opportunity to quench their thirst for more. While the haters either labeled my book a Gossip Girl/The Clique wannabe, surely it couldn't be as good as those, or ranted against the very existence of "clique" books.
You know how people say "no offense" before they're ready to say something that totally offends someone? Well no offense, but my books aren't and never were meant to be anything like Gossip Girl or The Clique novels. But because the series revolved around a clique that was hard to dispute until someone actually, ya' know, picked up the book and read it!
I've found myself defending cliques for many years, moreso since I started writing YA fiction.
To the public, cliques are evil, snotty groups that terrorize anyone in their paths that dare not move out of their way or think their way. In my books (based on my own high school circle of friends), the clique is a group of friends who share their most significant teen years growing and maturing together.
Just days away from the last of my series ready to drop the topic of the dangers of cliques has reared its head. I call that, an opportunity to educate!
A recent Ypulse
article talks about the dangers of glamorizing cliques in answer to a New York Times
article on real-life clique drama surrounding an elite private school in Connecticut.
Please, check out both articles. They're good reads. But in honor of the release of the last and final Del Rio Bay book, Flipping The Script
, I must break out a good ol' list:Why the DRB series is NOT your average Clique bookThey're not rich be-yotch!
For the most part, clique novels revolve around privelged teens. One might get the impression that all rich kids are total snots, if these meant-for-entertainment outlets were taken too seriously. My novels follow six teens from varying economic backgrounds, though admittedly primarily solid middle class.So Not The Drama
is about the challenge of accepting others no matter their parents bank balance. Yes, there's a "mean" girl. God love my character Jessica. She's a misguided teen who covets the material. But she's not your average Queen Bee, more like a wannabe that somehow made it into the fold of her clique, who will do whatever it takes to stay there. But she's also a secondary character!Purple labels aren't a character
I skimmed a The Clique
book once and nearly got a rash thinking about coming face-to-face with the snitty main character. Within the first few paragraphs she'd dropped the name of more designer labels than I even knew existed.
I actually read three Gossip Girl
books and enjoyed them. They're a fun read. Don't take that from them. But the wealth of the characters and what they wear are so dominate, at times, the label dropping makes the clothing seem as if it were a character.
Is fashion a component in my books? You betcha. Michael
is an up and coming fashion designer...or at least he will be one day. But fashion is linked to Mina's quirky style and Michael's Tim Gun-like need to prevent fashion faux pas by his best friend. His ambitions go beyond simply being obsessed with wearing the right labels. His eye is on turnubg love of fashion into a paying passion.My characters swim on the deep end of the pool
To say that all characters in clique novels are shallow is a generalization I won't be a part of. I've not read every clique novel, so I can't say. But, because the point of this list is to convince naysayers that they've got to look beyond the pouty teen models on the colorful covers, I've got to point out that there's more substance to my books than the average clique novel.So Not The Drama
touches on racism and prejudice. Don't Get It Twisted
is about a teen love triangle and rising above humiliation. That's What's Up!
is about the consequences of getting caught wrong. Who You Wit'?
is about first times vs. abstaining from sex and Flipping The Script
is about homophobia blowing up in your face.
Every "issue" is wrapped in light, teen vernacular and antics, because it's my job to make getting to the end voyeuristic and fun.Clique isn't a four-letter word
There's no doubt, the biggest difference with my books is that the clique are the good guys. They're not the bullies. They're not foisting their views, desires and standards on anyone else at their school.
I mean for the reader to see themselves among the motley DRB crew - a group of teens who find themselves, not only bonding over their similiarities but also questioning how they can work around their differences.
In some instances they manage to work around the differences. And in others they don't. The consequences - be they good or bad- always impacts the overall circle of friendship. Because that's life.
I wrote the books to tell the story of this group of teenagers and how they survived high school, together. In my mind, their experiences are as real as any teenager in America because most
teenagers in America aren't super rich or dirt poor. Most teenagers in America aren't one-dimensional jocks, geeks, goths or insert-stereotype-here, but rather multi-faceted teens who may be those things plus twenty other things in addition...and it's the popourri within that makes high school hard sometimes. They're trying to figure it out alongside their peers and now and then it makes for conflict and confrontation. But it also sometimes serves as a recipe for friendships that last a lifetime.
I didn't write the books to glorify or demonize cliques. I wanted to create an homage to my own clique for the wonderful memories we made together and I believe, I did. If my teen experiences and thus my books serve as the flip side to show cliques do not have to be sanctioned suburban gangs, hey, sign me up. I'll be the Poster Child all day long.
But based on the number of folks ready to quickly discard my books as just another set of clique books, it's safe to say my type of "clique" books are in the minority.Notice, I can't stop putting clique in quotes whenever the word is anywhere near a reference to my book.
No offense, other clique books.
But don't take my word for it. Take the Un-clique Challenge and read them for yourself.This has been a Public Service Announcement for P's mission to dispel myths about cliques.
That is all.