Rebellion is a common theme in YA literature. It's aptly showcased in characters such as Peeta and Katniss in The Hunger Games, Harry, Ron and Hermione in Harry Potter, Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, Ponyboy in The Outsiders, and even Jane in Jane Eyre, among countless others. Rebellious characters are satisfying to read (and write) because their spunk of unconformity makes them three-dimensional, exciting and unpredictable. We generally relate to these types of characters, and often cheer on their rebellious efforts because, in the words of Rita Skeeter, "Everyone loves a rebel."
Since life often parallels fiction, I felt it would be apropos to discuss my own teenage rebellion in this Teen Thursday guest post. Being that I was a late-rebellion-bloomer, my own rebellious efforts didn't come to full fruition until I was in high school. In fact, I was anything but a rebel through my early years. I minded my Ps and Qs...and if there had been Rs and Ss to follow, you'd better believe I would have followed those to a T (no pun intended). Suffice to say, I was a bit of a goody-goody. That changed when I was bitten by the teenage rebellion bug. All of a sudden, I stopped following blindly and began questioning, often venting my frustrations into pages and pages of angst-ridden poetry.
Although I did quite a few things to test the limits of my parents' sanity as a teenager, I'd have to say that my temptation to rebel culminated on my 18th birthday. This was the day that I decided to get an eyebrow ring...because I liked the way it looked, and I wanted to have a silver badge of individuality right where everyone could see it. However, having grown up in a relatively conservative family, this wasn't something you just go out and do...especially without talking to your parents first. So you can imagine the shock on my parents' faces when I came to dinner that night with a shiny silver hoop sticking out of my right eyebrow. Coincidentally, they had company visiting, so my parents didn't want to rock the hospitality boat by questioning me about what the heck was on my face. For 45 minutes, we sat, we ate...and I felt thoroughly entertained by my parents' bugged eyes, and satisfied with my crafty stance against conformity.
Sure, getting a facial piercing is most definitely not like rebelling against the Capitol, Death Eaters, the Socs, castes, authoritarianism or repression like some of the rebels we love so much from YA fiction. But it did give me a sense of independence, individuality, and control over my own destiny that I think is an important rite of passage in adolescence. I decided to take the piercing out less than a year after I got it, much to the joy of my wonderful parents, but the point is that I was able to experience it by my own choice to decide that it wasn't for me in the end. I believe this is an important step during teenagedom. After all, adolescence is about figuring out who you are, what you stand for, your likes and dislikes, and where you fit in the world. And how can you do that without trials and errors.... and a little rebel streak here and there?
Although I can't say I'm much of a rebel anymore, unless you think going through the 10 items or less line with 11 items is rebellious (shampoo and conditioner is one item, right?), I do enjoy passing down a hint of rebellion to my YA characters.
To close this post, I would like to give a word of advice to any aspiring teen rebels out there thinking about getting a piercing: Be wary of eyebrow rings... they leave scars, and a bizarre tweezing/sneezing reflex. Trust me, I know...
Amy Holder’s debut YA novel, THE LIPSTICK LAWS, published with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in April 2011. With a passion for chocolate, hair straighteners and all things Saturday Night Live, Amy’s abandoned her former life in psychology and education to throw herself into writing. She lives in Pennsylvania with her verbally challenged sidekicks (pets).