This is a fascinating discussion of young adult fiction and its depictions of boys transforming into men by Sarah Mesle in the Los Angeles Review of Books:
WHEN I WAS PREGNANT the first time, I hoped I would have a girl. I know, obviously, that it’s hard to be a girl (the grim realities of Not Having it All, slut shaming, Todd Akin, etc.) but it seemed that parenting a girl, as a task, offered an appealing kind of clarity. You teach a daughter to be a strong, brave woman. But what, I wondered, do you teach a son? “Don’t get too full of yourself,” was about the best I could come up with.
I remember that quandary every time I read an essay about gender in Young Adult literature (which, since I teach it, is often). I see, in the ongoing conversation about Bella and Katniss, our culture pondering whether YA novels support the strong daughters we all want to raise. But as we debate ad nauseam whether, for example, Bella Swan is a dangerous role model for young women, we’ve neglected to ask the corresponding question: what does it tell young men when Edward Cullen and Jacob Black are the role models available to them? Are these barely-contained monsters really the best we can imagine?
The contemporary uncertainty towards young men snaps into focus when we compare recent texts to their literary ancestors — nineteenth-century novels for young readers. Hope Leslie, Jo’s Boys, Northwood, The Lamplighter: these novels heralded the end of boyhood as a happy ending, the beginning of a triumphant journey into a powerful manhood. But today’s YA boys approach their manhood with trepidation. And they should. The adult men who populate YA fictional worlds are often careless, corrupt, incompetent — sometimes even cruel — and only rarely kind.
Thanks to @withabang for the link.