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October 18, 2020 68 min

Dr Ben Screech is a Lecturer in English and Education at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham, UK. His research specializes primarily on YA fiction, as well as pop culture for young people more generally. Prior to his current role, Ben worked as a teacher and latterly, a community support liaison worker for young people with special needs and disabilities. Ben’s Recent publications include: ‘An Interview with Hayley Long’ (VOYA, 2019), ‘Unsilencing the Child’ (PRACTICE, 2019) and ‘Mental Health in YA Literature’ (Paper Lanterns, 2020).

‘Sex and drugs and rock and roll’, the British pop musician Ian Dury famously proclaimed, ‘is all my brain and body need’. These three components play such a pivotal role in contemporary young-adult fiction that the lyric could almost be viewed as a mantra for the genre. Young Adult Fiction (YA) is, as Ben describes, a body of literature that deals chiefly with young people’s initial forays into the adult world’s illicit joys and temptations. Pop music has found its way into YA fiction in a variety of ways, including for example, through characters’ creation of mixtapes and iPod playlists.

Ben primarily suggests that music acts as a vehicle through which authors are able to reflect upon and underscore the characters’ formative adolescent experiences. Contemporary YA novels that do this particularly effectively include: Hayley Long’s What’s Up With Jody Barton? (2012), David Levithan’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008), Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999) and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park (2012). 

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