I was recently talking with some writer friends and this question came up:
Is it more important for YA authors to potray realistic characters (that may have a dark side) or to create positive role models?
There have been some readers who weren't thrilled with the depiction of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in my YA novel, WANTED; DEAD OR IN LOVE, as being humans with wants and desires all their own. After all, Bonnie & Clyde were hardened criminals from the 1930’s who were in love and committed crime after crime. In my novel, they come back to life within the bodies of two teens, and um, they’re not necessarily typecast as “the bad guys.”
No doubt about it, Bonnie and Clyde did a lot of horrific things in their day and were eventually gunned down for it by a posse of tough crime fighters called The Texas Rangers. I’m not making excuses for Bonnie and Clyde––it was good they were stopped. Gun downed by a posse of sharp shooters? Not sure about that one. Especially when you factor in the time frame when they lived (The Depression), where they lived (the poorest slum in Texas), and their age when they started to commit their crimes (16 for Clyde, 19 for Bonnie).
I think what I tried to show is that most of us––Bonnie and Clyde included––are not solidly “all good” or “all bad.” Many of us make decisions that seem like a good idea at the time that later turn out to be not-so-great. My main character, a teen girl named Monroe, has always lived by the motto, “You Only Live Once,” but when she faces the counterpart to that, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time,” she starts to reconsider.
If she could do it all over again, she might say, “Yes, you are in charge of your own destiny. Just make sure it’s the destiny you really want.”
Actual footage taken from Bonnie & Clyde’s death scene in 1934.
'Til next time, stay safe!