Young adult fiction has always been popular among teens, but with sub-genre like sick lit, a new concept has been revolutionized. One of the bestselling genera presently is sick lit. Teen readers are fascinated by characters who are terminally ill but desperately fall in love through their journey to death.
With the coming of age novels like Fault in Our Stars, sick lit became runaway hits though the genre has been under continuous interrogation for romanticizing illness. Never Eighteen, another of such kind, where a 17 year old leukemia stricken boy wants to confess his love because he is sure of his death before turning 18. And then there was Before I Die, which sold around 70,000 copies in first three months. This perhaps has been biggest thing after the vampire books, like Twilight. Though Twilight was clearly fiction, these novels afflict upon the reality of terminal illness and death.
The release of Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, ignited debate worldwide on whether series should be glorifying suicide and depression. While it’s been restrained, youth is still attracted towards it because of the image of “always already sad” teenagers. If noted, younger generation constitute more than 50 percentage of victims of suicide and depression. The awful reality of the illness is confronted in these novels. The emotions of pain, sorrow, separation and desperation to cling on to life are explicitly discussed. The books are entertaining because of its element of humor and wit that keeps the read light against the heavy theme of death. The unconventional characters, who are presented in a completely different aspect make an impact too. The strong masculine characters like Gerry in PS I Love You is undoubtedly different from funny and pleasant Augustus in Fault in Our Stars, and the latter makes the present youngsters relate rather than any other. These books have been breaking taboos of writing about suicide and death, which has become a topic to explore among the teens. The phenomena is seen from past decade very evidently which for long time had been seen as morbid.
The element of sadness which is melded emotionally with the theme of death works well with teens. The present youngsters are typically the ones suffering from loneliness and this becomes a passage to connect themselves with the characters. The teens are often torn between seclusion and confused self-identity, this genre makes them fervently addicted to the plot even if they are not ill. Sick lit are tear jerkers and relatable indubitably, but as it deals with suicide, media fears of copycat behavior. Hence, this literature are penalized widely. Complex nature of youngsters have to be understood rather than not talking about it, like if 13 Reasons Why focuses on suicide, it also addresses bullying. Hence, both the issues have to be resolved and it comes to limelight only when it’s written.
Mental health, is most known yet most ignored concern among children. A veto on this genre won’t aid because these books explore reality unlike chick lit which works on completely unrealistic and naive romance and patronizes cultural stereotypes.