/, Perfect 10, Perfect 10 talks Diversity in YA/P10 TALKS: Diversity in YA Literature and CONTEST!

AND YES, with every P10 Talks post (one per month) there will be a contest and giveaway! This month, it’s a signed hardcover of Tempest and Vortex ARC (one winner, two books). Read through the post and enter the contest at the bottom if you’d like. Open to International ENDS  OCTOBER 20, 2012

Today, the Perfect 10, my awesome teen panel and guest panelists, are talking about a topic that I’ve been thinking about lately and wondering if I’ve done enough or too little regarding this subject. The subject is Diversity in Young Adult literature. How the P10 Talks post works is, I ask the same questions to each teen and they can answer as many or as few as they’d like and I don’t insert my own opinions. I don’t tell you what I think because I’m the writer and what I need to do is listen. Listen to what my readers and my target audience are looking for in a YA novel and ask myself whether I’m the right author to provide that for them.  

“I’m a closet lesbian and a judgmental bitch, which means one thing—I have awesome gaydar.”–GLEE 

The first question I asked them was:

A lot of people say YA literature has gotten a bit “white-washed” and often lacks racial diversity (or at least the huge bestsellers lack diversity), have you noticed this at all? Is it something that has been on your radar? Are you tired of the only diversity being between popular vs not popular characters? Or rich vs poor characters? 

“First off, I feel I should say I don’t really like paying super close attention to specific descriptions of characters so I can paint my own picture in my head of characters. For me, the story is what matters most and that there are characters I like and I can relate to so those two elements surpass other things for what I zero in on. That being said, I have noticed that in there is a lack of racial diversity in some YA. (Erica, 19, US resident)
“From my point of view I think it is true that Ya literature has become slightly white washed and it does occasionally lack racial diversity and I have noticed this mainly when, I do come across a book that’s actually has some sort of diversity in it and wonder why these types of books are so rare to come across and I guess in a way that what makes those books special to read. (Holly, 17, Liverpool, UK)
I think people tend to over-dramatize stereotypes when reading, such as a poor neighborhood containing only a certain ethnic group. Cities are segregated, that’s life, and realism in books is something I love. (Kristina, 16, Buffalo, NY)
“I’ve noticed it and, truth be told, I am a little tired of having to read about Caucasian characters mostly all the time because I’m Hispanic and some of things regular American people (most of the Caucasian characters I read about are in the USA) do is stuff I don’t ever do or have done. So I sometimes get that moment of lost connection.” (Monica, 14, New Jersey)

“There is a man who’s come into my life recently. And that man is Jesus Christ.”–GLEE

The second question I asked was:

Why do think authors/publisher’s sometimes shy away from writing more diversity in their novels or displaying non-white characters on covers?

“I think sometimes in the case of writing it may be a write what you know kind of deal. Depending on where you are from, you may not have a very diverse population. This is definitely the case with the town I grew up in.” (Erica, 19, US resident)

“I believe that author’s can’t force diversity in their novels; if they see a character a certain way, why change it just to appease picky readers? It’s their story, their world, their decisions, and most importantly, their characters. They can do what they want. (Kristina, 16, Buffalo, NY)
“I have no idea(!) and it’s weird because sometimes the racial features aren’t there. For example EONA by Alison Goodman (US version) has an Asian characters and I see a Caucasian person on the front so it’s kind of startling to see that.” (Monica, 14, New Jersey)
“I think that people aren’t using diversity in this sense because they are maybe afraid of offending someone. Today everyone is all about being politically correct that the only thing we feel that we can say is with non-descriptive words like ‘they’ instead of ‘he or she’. People have become so hypersensitive about what they say and what is said that when simply stating a fact like “He is black.” May be interpreted as a slur instead a fact. Of course the tone of what is said has everything to do with the meaning and intention, but I think people need to be able to separate insult from fact.” (Zoe, 19, Reno, NV)

“Mercedes is black, I’m gay…we make culture.”–GLEE

Question #3 was:

Have you read a YA novel with some kind of element of diversity where you thought the author hadn’t written the character authentically or just that it bugged you for some reason?

“To be completely honest I have never read a YA novel with some kind of element of diversity where the author hadn’t written any character authentically, yet there have been times where I have read a novel where some details weren’t all completely true to something to which they were referencing.” (Holly, 17, Liverpool, UK)

“YES! A book called Farsighted, I forgot the author’s name, I apologize, but the novel had a character who was of Indian descent. At every opportunity, the author seemed to point that out… like she earned some type of prize for having an Indian girl in her novel. Just saying, that was VERY annoying.(Kristina, 16, Buffalo, NY)

 “Sometimes people have to deal with a little adversity. I learned that at glee club.”–GLEE

 Question #4 was:

What kinds of diversity would you like to see more of in YA literature–ethnic/racial diversity, religious diversity, characters exploring sexual identity, characters with physical disabilities or mental disabilities?  

“I would love more of any sort of diversity, as long as it is done well and feels very natural, not forced at all.” (Erica, 19, US Resident)

“The kind of diversity that i would like to see more of in YA literature would be seeing characters with mental disabilities and how they perceive the world and what goes on in it.(Holly, 16, Liverpool, UK)
“Personally, I tend to read books in my comfort zone, which may or may not be a bad thing. Books about atheists or devil worship I never read, strictly because I’m a deep Christian and feel guilty even picking up a book that so blatantly disrespects the God I’ve loved and trusted for 16 years. I think author’s shouldn’t be so afraid to write about religious beliefs and faith in their romance novels, and I wonder why the topic is so taboo. (Kristina, 16, Buffalo, NY)
“I would like to see more exploring of exploring sexual identity because you know what? I have girl crushes form time to time and I have no shame in saying that a girl is beautiful or that they’re cute and I’m not a lesbian…well, at least, not yet or I don’t know. I’ve never liked liked a girl but ANYWAY. I would like to know of other people like this or of people going through finding our their sexuality. Degrassi is not cutting it anymore.” (Monica, 14, New Jersey)

“Chicks don’t have prostates. I looked it up.”–GLEE

And question #5 was:

Have you read any good YA books that tackled diversity well? If yes, please suggest titles or even suggest titles of books you’ve heard were good.  

“The one that pops into my head first is definitely Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey. I also thought the Boy Meets Girl anthology that came out earlier this year was very diverse and represented a lot of different ideals of diversity. Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang was an excellent book that was very diverse – it was a historical set in ancient China, a culture that is rarely represented in books and it was so fascinating!” (Erica, 19, Us resident)

“Unfortunately I haven’t read any good YA books that tackled diversity well.(Holly, 16, Liverpool, UK)
“The novel Divergent by Veronica Roth handled diversity subtly but very well. There were characters of all ethnicity, but it was written so well that it wasn’t obvious that she had specifically made those characters to add some diversity. It was real, it was natural, and it was fantastic.(Kristina, 16, Buffalo, NY)
“Simone Elkeles wrote a trilogy that has really good racial diversity; they are called Perfect Chemistry, Rules of Attraction, and Chain Reaction. The third has the best use of diversity and strays away from the more typical views of racial diversity. The Life of Pi is also a really spectacular book that involves a religious diversity as well as many other original plot lines. This is based on a true story and I had to read it for school; when I first read it I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not but once I finished it I loved how different it was.” (Zoe, 19, Reno, NV)

Special thanks to Ashelynn, Erica, Zoe, Holly, Kristina, and Monica, I LOVED hearing your thoughts and views on this topic. You guys are truly amazing young people!

 AND Now For The Contest info! 

Fill out this form (and comment on the post) and you’re entered to win a signed hardcover of TEMPEST and an ARC of VORTEX. Open Internationally and ends Oct. 20, 2012. 



About the Author:


  1. Amie@Mom Reads My Books! September 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    Love this! I am a huge Gleek and I love how that was a part of the discussion. Great questions, too!

  2. Amanda Marie September 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    I'm having the hardest time reading the post, I can't seem to focus on anything other than those glee pictures! Can't help it! I'm a bit obsessed with Glee! 🙂

  3. Anonymous September 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    Great contest and great questions!!!
    -Ti Colluney

  4. Tal September 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Oh I love Glee 😀
    Thank you so much for the amazing giveaway! 😀

  5. Redheaded Bookworm September 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    Very thought provoking questions. I think the panel answered them beautifully. I have never really paid attention to diversity really. Like one of the panelists said, I tend to not pay attention too deeply what they look like, and picture them the way I want to!

  6. Cecily White September 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    What an awesome post! I think we try so hard to make our characters 'relatable' to the majority, we forget the majority isn't as monochromatic as we think. Nice points, all!

  7. Danielle Nguyen September 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    I so wish that there was more diversity in YA lit. I do think we get a little more each year, but it's still not nearly enough. I love reading books that have characters that are different from me.

  8. Julie Cross September 27, 2012 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Fantastic point!

  9. Julie Cross September 27, 2012 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    I am also GLEE obsessed for those of you that mentioned your love of GLEE! Are you guys liking this season so far?

  10. Julie Cross September 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    what kind of diversity would be most intriguing for you to read about?

  11. Gaby September 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    I do have to say when Glee first came out I was like "Great yet another High School Musical" and then one day I was on Netflix to see if anything good was on, there wasn't, and I came across Glee and so I started watching it and I just fell in love with it ever since 😀

  12. Anubha September 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    I love your post… especially those pictures… i have geard alot about GLee i guess its time that i should start watching it… 🙂

  13. molly.frenzel September 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    Really cool post. I love to see different people's insight on question I've never even considered myself.

  14. ilovemmh September 27, 2012 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    What an awesome contest and a very intriguing post. Diversity is a very big subject and should be introduced into more YA novels. Thanks for this opportunity.

  15. swimwriteliv September 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for the giveaway Julie, love to see authors giving back to their fans:)


  16. Brooke DelVecchio September 27, 2012 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    What a totally awesome giveaway.
    I loved this post. Love the panel's answers.

  17. nadia; September 28, 2012 at 12:07 am - Reply

    I am so glad that a YA author has recognised this! As someone who loves YA and is not white, I am frankly a little tired of only seeing diversity manifest itself through supporting characters, if lucky. That's just another instance of tokenism which is just the back-door way out of having 'white-washed' books. Where are the Indian, Oriental Asian, Black, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Indigenous characters? A large percentage of the world's population is comprised of these backgrounds so reflect that in YA!

    Thanks for this post. I can only hope that this message spreads and we start to see diversity as we should.

  18. Grace Lo September 28, 2012 at 12:49 am - Reply

    Oh. My. Gosh. I am loving the post, and the giveaway's awesome. Waiting at the edge of my seat for Vortex!

  19. MindaDale September 28, 2012 at 3:04 am - Reply

    I love a giveaway!
    I really love a book giveaway.
    I really, really love a book giveaway for a book I can't wait to read!

  20. Diana October 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Wonderful post and the photos are amazing!
    Thank you for the chance!

  21. Veronika October 2, 2012 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Loved all the questions! thanks for posting! Can't wait for Vortex to come out!

  22. Christina Kit. October 7, 2012 at 8:09 am - Reply

    This is an awesome post, great questions.

    I agree that diversity just for diversity's sake doesn't cut it, it's all about the characters as people and not being stereotypical based on other cultures' views on race, religion, sexuality or other type of diversity. It has to be authentic for it to work, and for the characters to have real personality.

    John Green and Simone Elkeles handle diversity perfectly. Jennifer Shaw Wolf in Breaking Beautiful handles diversity in a medical sense wonderfully as well.

  23. JenniferK October 7, 2012 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    I'm a huge Glee fan so this was a great post for me!

  24. kristy1504 October 7, 2012 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for the giveaway, and this post! I agree with Christina above, John Green and Simone Elkeles DO handle diversity in a fantastic way. I'm really hoping to read more books that handle diversity well!

  25. danielle.poore October 7, 2012 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    I have a signed copy of tempest so to have a signed copy of vortex would be awesome!!!

  26. Laura Burchell October 7, 2012 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    I love this post, and I think the questions are great! I really love the Glee pictures throughout – love that show so much!
    The giveaway is so awesome – Tempest is still one of my favourite books of the year even though I read it on 2nd January, which is really saying something.
    Really cannot wait for Vortex. Thank you for the giveaway!

  27. Rachael Smith October 7, 2012 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    Truthfully, when I read I don't really look for diversity in the characters, I'm mostly interested in the plot. But thinking about it, maybe authors aren't too focused on making their characters diverse; maybe they are more focused on the plot as well. Also, they might be thinking about these diversities, but don't think that it's pertinent information to their story. Sometimes there are stories with great diversity, which I can think of one really good one that was forementioned: Divergent. But I'm not sure if one would say those diversities are focused on race (although there definitely are some mentions of that in there), sexuality, or religion, but of personality and calling (specifically the five). Good questions to think about though.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  28. Gaby Pendragon October 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    Awesome giveaway!
    And this is definitely an interesting topic, one can go for diversity without really understanding of it and just going for cliches so I think it's important to just keep it real.

  29. Anonymous October 7, 2012 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    I'd like more authors to have contests and giveaways, because then they are contributing more to their fans and readers. Thanks for thinking of us Julie! <3 And I agree, diversity is such a extensive and important issue. It should be introduced into more YA novels.

  30. Myra White October 7, 2012 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    This was really interesting. I know that some authors can't include much diversity because they haven't experienced a very diverse life. Coming across books that do have that bit of diversity though are really good, if they're well written. Just throwing in a gay, black guy who loves God is not gonna cut it. I have no real prejudice against anyone and love to read about a mix of different people as long as their stories are real and not something crafted from stereotypes and prejudices. 🙂

  31. sarabara081 @ Forever 17 Books October 7, 2012 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    My favorite answer was Erica from the first question. I really don't pay attention to the physical looks of a character too much. Often I forget how they are even described because like Erica said, I paint my own picture in my mind. But I do wish there wasn't so much whitewashing, especially on YA covers!

  32. Emily Ann Ward October 7, 2012 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    Nice post! I agree with people who are saying not to add diversity for the sake of diversity, but I think diversity with culture, religion, sexual orientation, etc. usually makes for a more interesting story. It provides more room for conflict hehe!

    I can't wait for Vortex 🙂 Thanks for the giveaway!

  33. Sarah October 8, 2012 at 2:04 am - Reply

    Nice post!

  34. Nina October 8, 2012 at 3:06 am - Reply

    Love the Glee quotes!! One book that I loved that i think had subtle diversity is "From What I remember" I loved this book and it had a diversity of sexual orientation,Class, and ++Ethinic Heritage

  35. Anonymous October 8, 2012 at 10:14 am - Reply

    As a fan of YA novels I think that a lot (too much) authors are hopping on the "dystopia bandwagon". For way too long now. There are authors that dare … like Julie 😉 … but it's still always the typical stereotyped young girl in a dystopian world, yada, yada, yada … been there, read that … I wish more authors would dare to go where others don't. Well, you might hit a nerve and sell a lot of copies 😉 And after that … all the other authors will copy YOU 😉

  36. Megha October 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    loved the post, Julie! Can't wait to read VORTEX!

  37. Alexis October 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    I love the book & I can't wait for the second book.

  38. alicia marie October 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Great post! Those were great questions, and answers as well! I agree that there's not enough diversity in YA and even I've gotten to where I automatically assume the main character is white before coming across the character description. It would be great to see more diversity in the books. Also, can't wait to read VORTEX!!!

  39. Tammy Sparks October 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    This was a very interesting post, and I loved that you used GLEE, which is the best show that deals with diversity, to highlight the points. Can't wait to read VORTEX and TEMPEST! Thank you for the chance:)

  40. Irial October 11, 2012 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Filled out and shared^^

  41. Breana M. October 13, 2012 at 12:15 am - Reply

    This post was awesome, it really gives me something to think about when I choose the next book I want to read. Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

  42. Huiting October 20, 2012 at 3:20 am - Reply

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I MUST WIN I DONT CARE IF NOT I'LL REALLY CRY. The book makes me so emotional.

  43. Dvora October 24, 2012 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    If I could win something!!!! OMG this would be amazing!!

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