What Does “Clean” YA Mean?
Here at Blink, we publish clean young adult fiction and nonfiction, and every so often I have a reader ask me what “clean” means. It certainly isn’t meant to be the opposite of “dirty,” and it also isn’t meant to imply that the content doesn’t tackle tough topics. So here’s what clean does mean:
- Clean YA comes in all shapes and sizes—fantasy, contemporary, historical, and even thrillers. It deals with real issues real people face, whether that’s overcoming a loss, facing a challenge, or finding where you fit in the world.
- A clean book would earn a PG or PG-13 rating at the movies. Like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), we look at use of language, mentions of drugs and alcohol, sexual content, and violence to decide if a story fits the bill. Generally, the main characters in clean YA don’t swear, drink, or progress beyond kissing, and they only resort to violence when absolutely necessary.
- Unlike with the “clean edit” of a song, this genre doesn’t take a gritty book and bleep out the swear words. These books are written with the intention of having clean language and content from the get-go.
- Authenticity is important. Just because there is no cursing doesn’t mean the voice of the main character isn’t true to teens. In fact, because clean YA follows stricter guidelines, it is even more important that the storytelling is pitch-perfect and characters feel true to life.
- Protagonists in clean YA are not perfect—far from it! But they often are the types of heroes and heroines who don’t give up, even when they’re facing seemingly impossible odds. Their attitudes are meant to inspire readers to be stronger and more confident no matter the situation.
- These stories are written for everyone. Clean YA isn’t only intended for younger or conservative YA readers, but for anyone who loves a well-told story.
Blink was created almost three years ago to publish the clean YA that readers want. We had librarians and booksellers asking for those types of books, and we thought “hey, we could do that!” Now our imprint is home to award-winning and bestselling authors and dozens of beloved books. Check out the titles Blink publishes on our Books page, and if you’re interested in finding more to read, you can ask your librarian for recommendations or search “clean YA books” online for extra ideas!
I wanted to close this post with some recent tweets from bestselling author Ally Carter, who is one of the queens of clean YA. She is pointing out the need for writing in this genre, and we’re so glad we are able to provide books to readers around the world! Show your support by tweeting about why YOU love #CleanYA.