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suicide_kings_wild
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎11-15-2008
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

You obviously are writting for young adults I presume. If this book is for teens then I dont think that a few curse words are to bad depending on how you execute them. I am sure that they hear alot worse in school and out and about.

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HarleyLBennett
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Registered: ‎05-31-2008
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

I write for pre-teens and feel that the curse words should be avoided fror that age group.
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dokybuby
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Registered: ‎12-30-2008
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

Yes, Character can use curse in young adult novels.  Especially if it is true to the character of the story.  It would be different though if the novel was filled with curse words.  Moderation would be my policy.
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

Welcome, Harley and dokybuby!
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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PenelopeTX
Posts: 443
Registered: ‎11-20-2008
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?


TiggerBear wrote:

What ever happend to reading the book first before you give it to your child? My parents did that until they thought I was mature enough to judge for myself.


I have to say, that is what my parents did. Even if they did not have time to read it first, they would read it at the same time, or right after me. And we always had to discuss it.
In fact, Mom would often take me to the book store and say "I will get you anything in here. But -- you have to read it, and you have to ask me questions about anything that feels weird or that you don't understand."
So for our family, any reasonable content would have been acceptable, because we would be talking about it anyway. 

 

PenelopeTX
Do NOT invoke my inner Mama Bear! (Credited to me)
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love4books
Posts: 93
Registered: ‎09-18-2007
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

  This is a very interesting topic.  I personally do not see anything wrong with a few curse within the book if it is in character or actually fits the situation.  While children today indeed do experience foul language and many other disturbing situations at school or at a very early age shouldn't justify that it is ok to include it (especially heavily) in books they read for enjoyment. 

   When I posed this question to my 10 year old she said she doesn't like running across bad words at all in her books.  I remember when she was reading the Spiderwick books she would continually ask me why does the author have to continue writing the bad words as she felt they could have just left them out.  I too have read the series and like my daughter enjoyed reading them.  The offensive language used was definately mild however did repeat throughout the series and I did feel it unnecessary.

   Like Penelope we are very involved with the books that our daughter reads and talk about them.  She is an exceptional reader and loves to read.  Unfortunately, I know from volunteering at our school there are way too many parents not aware of anything their children are reading. 

  Since so many children today do hear bad words frequently and at such early ages I think a better question would be why not give them an escape from the curse words in the books they are enjoying to read?

 

love4books

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Patty_Champion
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Registered: ‎03-10-2008
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

I think if you want to get teens reading then you have to be realistic and that includes the use of foul language. If you water it down they'll think it's ment for jr. high kids & turn their noses up. And believe me, it'll spread like wildfire if a story is good or really bad.
Patty
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maryca
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Registered: ‎01-25-2008
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

Is there a way to write the story so that the character doesn't actully say the words?   But it is implied.  i am no writer.  I really sdon't ake offense at some language beingused. but I live in a small town of 350 where the teachers walk a fine line on what thy can ancant teach

Most kids woulf know what your taling about anyway.  And the parents might not object to the words used.  Mary

Mary C A.
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HarleyLBennett
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Registered: ‎05-31-2008
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

Mary, back up and read reply number 20 in this thread. Here you'll find an example of a character using profanity without the words actually being used.

 

I believe a good writer can convey the idea of cursing without using the actual words. One can also create a character who would normally use these words and get around it through careful and creative writing.

 

Of course kids know the words. They can fill in as they like. But, by leaving out the words, an author is refusing to say they're okay.

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booklovergirl12
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Registered: ‎03-21-2009
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

I do believe that in some cases cursing would make the story seem more realalistic. After all in the real world we are not perfect angels that don't say anything wrong. You said how that person "would unquestionably curse in real life" cursing once or twice might help the story seem more realalistic. I'm not trying to say to fill the book with cursing but I think making the story realistic helps to engage the reader. I hope I could help,

                                                                                          Rachel

~BoOkLoVeRgIrL12
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Becky-Flahertee
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Registered: ‎04-17-2009
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

I am 12 and I hate to say it but i like it when charictors cuse.  Actually I am reading Safe House (cabot) and thy say things like "give me the freeking keys.

Only I didn't say freeking"

That way they arn't actually swearing, but they get the point across!! :smileyhappy:

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ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?


Becky-Flahertee wrote:

I am 12 and I hate to say it but i like it when charictors cuse.  Actually I am reading Safe House (cabot) and thy say things like "give me the freeking keys.

Only I didn't say freeking"

That way they arn't actually swearing, but they get the point across!! :smileyhappy:


 

Thank you, Becky!  There are very good ways to get around this, and authors can be good at it, as you show in your example from Meg Cabot!

 

I hope you keep enjoying books!

~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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JennGrrl
Posts: 54
Registered: ‎04-23-2009
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

If it would be in the character's nature to curse, then be true to the character.  I'm not particularly sure I would drop a lot of f-bombs, but you've got to be true to your character and that character's story within your story.  It may also be an opportunity to slip in a lesson about how people that curse are viewed/perceived by others.

 

I tend to pre-read the books I hand off to my children.  If there was cursing in a book that seemed to be an integral piece of the puzzle, it would not deter me from allowing my children (8,10, and 13 years) to read the book.  What it would do is encourage me to discuss the book with my children as they were reading it, and to discuss how they are feeling as the character is cursing, and what they think about it, and how they see people that speak in that manner.

 

Kudos for getting opinions before you just slide in the cursing.  Sure, commercially, it may affect you, but I think, ultimately, if you do this properly then parents who care will use it to teach, as will educators, rather than just condemning and banning.  The real world isn't always pretty, and we can't expect every character to be squeaky clean.  Boy, what a boring books we'd have if they were all about perfectly perfect characters!

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plaidfroggie
Posts: 116
Registered: ‎04-21-2009

Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

I don't know if my opinion would be of any help to you at all.  I haven't read your book, sorry I have just recently taken interest in young adult, and children's books.  Until I got hooked on Harry Potter by accident before the series took off, I gave up on kiddie lit when I managed to drag my mother into the public library for an adult library card.  Back in my day (I will be 37 this month) to read the limited selection of Young Adult novels available as a genre you had to have one of your parents sign for an adult library card in person. 

 

It was just before my 11th birthday.  I had extremely lazy parents who didn't pay attention to anything I read except my mother's one rule "No Dr. Suess is allowed in this house because he writes made up nonsense words".  My parents had no clue to the themes and language I was being exposed to, and while I don't really favor censorship and banning books, I think parents should set realistic limits on what their children and teenagers are allowed to read while under their roof.  I did have librarians who helped temper what I was reading a little bit, but I still managed to read things that honestly were downright age inappropriate even though I didn't like the romance genre and still don't.

 

I had a major break with my family when I moved out of state.  It was actually much healthier  for me since my family was to put it quite simply abusive and continue to be that way in many ways.  My oldest niece was almost 6 months old before I found out she was born.  My brother was abusive to me when I grew up as well, so I am not close to either of my siblings as I am the only one who rejects my family's "value" system.  Aside from rejecting just the spare the rod part, my mother's teachings would make KKK members proud and my immediate family continues to be that way.  I will give one example of what I had to unlearn and I don't mean it to be offensive in any way, but one of my mother's frequent lectures was about "shipping the blacks back to Africa".

 

I went to a decent middle class school district that was liberal enough for me to learn to disregard most of what I learned at home from a fairly early age as rubbish.  My immediate family is racist, sexist and abusive, and I learned how to be a better person from books and school than even my extended family.  Why did my mother move us to that school district?  My father had major objections at the time because it was expensive in housing prices and property taxes and a long commute to work for him.  Simple because she is racist and when we first moved to that district there were no non-caucasian children in the school system at all.  It was also the same school district my mother went to and she didn't realize it had gotten more liberal over the years. 

 

I did not have any real conversations about what I read for recreation or learned in school with my parents because I frankly got tired of my mother trying to brainwash me whenever something contrary to her worldview came up (which was frequent just in history class alone).  I heard enough of her garbage when she just ranted randomly, or when my brothers talked about what they learned.  I figured out on my own that when history books and teachers are telling you something completely the opposite of what your parents said that it makes more sense logically for you go with the school system values. 

 

My mother and father did not do what the majority of my mother's generation did which is marry right out of high school and start having children.  With my older brother almost 5 years older than me, I had the oldest set of parents in my entire graduating class.  Given my mother's generation did not really swear much at all, I did not actually hear my mother say the "f" word until I was a junior in high school, she didn't even say sh*t, or d*mn(outside of the Biblical reference).  My father was from England and if he used British slang for curse words I didn't notice it, and he certainly didn't use American curse words around us since my mother would have had a fit. 

 

Given that I heard very little swearing growing up, I was frankly shocked a bit when I first read the words in the books I was reading, but I was reading adult books and even in my middle school not many of the kids used swear words.  It was a totally different world in many ways than today's world.  Being caught in school saying even the word sh*t meant detention at my schools up through high school.  I acknowledge the world has changed greatly since I was in school.  People curse much more frequently today.  Schools have many serious issues to deal with that are much worse than a potty mouth.  My older brother provided my main exposure to those words being spoken.  When he started high school he chose to curse like a sailor at home to irritate my parents.

 

I kind of snuck into this forum.  I am not certain if I will be welcome here since I don't have children and given that I am a 37 year old female with health concerns that make getting pregnant a bad idea, I will most likely never be a parent.  My husband would like to be a parent, and I would like it to happen but we waited and now it is extremely unlikely.  I am however a concerned aunt and my nieces (my older brother's daughters) are 6 and 8.  When I found out from my cousin that my first niece was born about 6 months after the fact, I did some very heavy thinking and have gotten in very tentative contact with my family.  This is against what was advised by my therapists for my own sanity.  BTW if I am unwelcome here please inform me of the fact, and I will go away since I know this forum is for families with children.

 

This leads to why I snuck into this forum.  I know my family well enough to know that I would be able to teach a baboon to read easier than I could get any family member to read a parenting book.  My brother flunked English his junior year of high school because he would not read the assigned books.  I know he still to this day takes after my mother to the point of not reading anything except maybe newspapers and magazines.  My mother actually considers herself an expert on child rearing since she raised 3 children who have never been arrested.  I know for a fact he gets child rearing tips from my mother (which makes me cringe).

 

My recent interest in children and young adult literature comes from two directions.  The primary reason is that I finally met my nieces last August at Disneyworld at a small family reunion my mother paid for.  I had to really fight with myself about going as face to face contact with my adult family members warred greatly with my desperate desire to meet my nieces.  Despite my burning desire to meet my nieces, it took my husband wanting the all expenses paid by my mother trip to actually get me to go.  I had honestly decided not to go, but he begged me otherwise. 

 

I probably need to point out here that I have needed extensive therapy to deal with extreme anger issues caused by my family's abuse which is the other reason I don't have children.  (The expense of therapy is also the reason we never have vacation money) Before my health issues popped up, I realized I would make a very bad parent since I could tell I was out of control even though I tried very hard not to be. 

 

Unlike my older brother whose rage issues were acted out both verbally and physically I just couldn't control my verbal output.  My husband wanted me to get pregnant earlier in our marriage, but I realized from my upbringing that words hurt as much as hitting, and I knew I would make a lousy parent.  I knew my lack of control meant no amount of parenting books would help me raise children well.  Being around my family members again did hurt me psychologically by causing flashbacks during and after the trip and led to some depression at the thought of my nieces being raised by my brother.  Even on his best "vacation in public" behavior I can tell he is not raising them humanely.  Little slips of the tongue and other assorted things I saw are clear indicators.  His wife doesn't seem to be a positive force for reining in my brother.

 

I found out there that the girls actually do read to a certain extent which was a happy surprise.  They have cable tv and some video games to take up their time as well which I didn't have growing up, but they do still choose to read for fun sometimes which is saying something in today's society especially with non-reader parents .  Even before I met them, I fell into unconditional love with them because they are immediate, innocent family.  I want to play the meddlesome aunt and try to influence their reading habits.  I know I could have used a good adult role model for my reading choices besides teachers and librarians.  While I honestly believe that parents have a right to raise their children with their choice of belief systems, I know for a fact my entire family is sexist to a degree that is harmful.  I want to provide strong female literary role models for my nieces.

 

I know it is interfering, but I know the "women are only good as baby making machines" attitude of my family is harmful.  My family considered me immediately inferior to my brothers and treated me accordingly growing up on the basis of gender.  My female cousins were raised the same way.  I honestly cried when I found out my brother's children are girls because I don't live close enough to try to provide any real balance to that kind of treatment.  I think if he had sons he would be more likely to treat them decently.  I am a failure in my family just by the fact that I haven't done what a woman should and make babies.  How do I know my brother feels the same way today?  He flat out said to me on the phone one day he went to a tent revival where he learned all teenage pregnancies are caused by working mothers and his wife "isn't allowed to work until his daughters are out of the house".  He did "allow" his wife to get a job at the school his daughters go to last year, but only gave his permission because her hours exactly match their schedule. 

 

My brother and his wife are letting the school system choose what is appropriate for their daughters right now.  Neither of them could even tell me a title of a book their children are reading when I asked.  They are letting the school and their church dictate what is allowed and not pre-screening anything.  I am not surprised at the fact that my brother isn't and not really surprised he would marry someone who doesn't do it either.  Neither of them are readers and since my mother's parenting tips have nothing to do with reading, he isn't likely to change.

 

The second reason I have been checking out some of the children and young adult books that are popular is that since finding out about my brother's first child I have been writing short children's stories that I knew I couldn't really share with my nieces as I am such a black sheep of the family, but it made me feel a connection with the children when writing them.  I have shared some of the stories with friends who think I should flesh out, edit and actually try to get them published.  My friends with children pointed out that some of the stories are a little too mature in content for younger children to grasp and suggested I see what is currently available and considered appropriate for children and young adults. 

 

My friends would really like to see me published as many of them also endured "women are inferior" childhoods, and they say the female characters I write are very strong role models. They say that you still don't see enough of that these days in children's books.  I have to say that given my upbringing I had to force myself to even start sharing stories with good friends as I was very downtrodden about my writing in the 5th grade when we did our first creative writing assignment.  I realize looking back that my family treated me so poorly out of a combination of both fear and ignorance.  It took therapy to actually make me realize that the first story I ever wrote came very close to "outing" my family as physically abusive.  When combining that fear with the fact that my parents were not readers of children's books, they seemed to have expected me to write like an adult.  The simple language and technique did not meet their idea of what "good" writing is even though the teacher gave it the only A in the class.  They were still picking it apart on the basis of what an adult would write.

 

What I learned by my own writing efforts, and the better writers I have read, is that you do indeed need to stay true to your characters.  To do anything less actually cheapens the stories.  I haven't included any curse words in what I have written to date, but at the same time I was trying to write strong females who were not in a situation where cursing would have been appropriate.  Given my nieces are young the stories have more basic plots, and I have not tried to create anything on purpose that is even aimed at middle school children.  My husband is being very supportive, but sharing is hard so I am trying to let myself be "imperfect".  

 

I also haven't written a really long children's story yet.  Do I believe a mature middle school child can understand the profanity as an intrinsic part of a character's nature, yes I do.  Anne McCaffrey, one of my all time favorite authors has characters that curse, she doesn't use the traditional curse words in her books because she has created entirely different worlds where the curse words are in line with the various worlds.  You can definitely tell they are cursing though!  My longest writing effort to date is about 25,000 words and was written for me and me alone.  It is not at all appropriate for children, it is a "get out some poison" writing because of the abuse.  It isn't finished and I have only shared it with two friends who know about my abuse issues.  They think I should finish it.  If I ever finish it it will definitely include some curse words.

 

As an aunt versus a parent my opinion would be to stay true to the character and story.  I have read only 2 series so far that many are letting their 9 year old daughters read, and I am horrified at the content!  There isn't a single curse word, but I would actually rather my nieces saw the "f" word which I am sure they have heard somewhere before than see the content of these books.  Both series were chosen for the fact that the main characters were female and the books are popular.  I can obviously tell that you know you can't please everyone, and I think that reality is a little more important than the idiocy of the mob mentality.   I hope whatever you choose you don't end up on a banned list.  Good luck.

 

I am checking out the Eragon series it is probably too old for my oldest niece right now, but I heard good things about it.  I am so disgusted with the two things I did read that I am reading it despite the male main character as I hear the author was 15 when he wrote the first book.  The writing (though I have only read the first chapter) doesn't seem extremely complex for the younger set.  Time will tell as to whether or not I would put it on a recommended for my nieces list.  I might actually have to check out your series Jordan.  I am almost at the point of despair at what is considered proper for the younger female readers when it comes to female lead characters.  My oldest niece turns 9 in December so if anyone has a good suggestion of a website to check out regarding "Good" role model books for that age please let me know.

 

The two series I checked out were Twilight as I was looking at what was supposed to be for mid-teens for my own writing purposes, and the Clique series that is supposed to be age appropriate for my older niece.  I was downright dismayed that Twilight is so popular because honestly I shudder at the thought of my niece reading it when she turns 14.  At age 14 in high school I had strong objections when I was forced to read Romeo and Juliet as I thought the teenage romance with suicide at the end was a horrible thing and didn't understand it.  New Moon rips that theme off with a book that turns the main female character into a total vegetable for a week, followed by a zombie state, followed by suicidal tendancies.  In my mind that makes it a worse message than Romeo and Juliet.

 

 After I read it I did a little web research on it I found that parents are encouraging their daughters to read it at age 9 though they have read the books.  I was honestly curious how a series about a vampire and a human girl falling in love and having a hybrid baby did not meet with a "foul it contains the occult" outcry from the people who complained loudly about Harry Potter when Rowling became a bestseller.  The theme of the perfect romance where they wait to have sex until after marriage and even have a baby probably soothes that faction.  Even with Meyer's venom version I am still confused as vampires have always had a demonic theme before.

 

As for the Clique series I honestly was hoping for something along the lines of Judy Blume for the new generation regarding peer pressure.  I was sorely disappointed as the themes are popularity at any cost, be downright vicious to your own friends, and you won't be punished no matter what you do wrong.  No consequences is a child's dream probably, but I don't understand why parents buy it.  Harrison does an FAQ that says it is a comedy but from what I have seen here and elsewhere the young girls want to be Macy as much as they want to marry Edward Cullin.  I am not even willing to consider checking out Gossip Girls which is what is being recommended by girls here as a follow up read to Clique.

 

I have to say Jordan if you get condemned for a little cursing and those series are encouraged, then I would like to bang my head against the wall repeatedly enough to suffer brain damage so that I don't have to think about what is going on with American literature for children and young adults.  I guess I should apologize for this being such a long post, but since I don't have children I was in part trying to justify being here.  Also I would love a rating system of some kind that warns of content even as a concerned aunt!

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bigjackJS
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎04-15-2009
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

Do children, young teens curse? Of course they do. If you intend to make the language etc realistic you have to use curse words, slang words etc that modern children use. Some modern novels for children are about abuse, drug taking, sexual habits etc. Cursing is minor compared to themes of that nature.

That's my opinion.

All the best with your writing.

Jack

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ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
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Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?


bigjackJS wrote:

Do children, young teens curse? Of course they do. If you intend to make the language etc realistic you have to use curse words, slang words etc that modern children use. Some modern novels for children are about abuse, drug taking, sexual habits etc. Cursing is minor compared to themes of that nature.

That's my opinion.

All the best with your writing.

Jack


 

Thanks for commenting, bigjack.  It's funny how this thread rises to the top occasionally, given that this author was on the boards quite some time ago.  It shows the subject is important to readers.

~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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rome2007
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎02-04-2010

Re: Should characters curse in young adult novels?

Jordan,

 

I am a writer myself and struggle with many of the issues that come up when you write a YA novel.  I find it fascinating that many parents see nothing wrong with letting their teens read about graphic murder, suicide and gratuitous violence but are unable to deal with natural sexuality and swearing--both of which are a part of everyday life.  Take the Twilight series--it is billed as "wholesome" because there are hardly any curse words and Edward/Bella never have sex until they are married.  However, as the books progress, there are heads being ripped off, attempted suicide, bodies maimed, a vampire baby who is eating, yes, eating Bella from her insides as she is giving birth...Need I say more? It is pretty horrific, violent, very adult stuff.  I really enjoyed the Twilight series but I don't think the fourth book is necessarily teenage subject matter.  That being said, I would certainly let my teenager read it and I would let my teen read Forever and Are You There God It's me Margaret because although some of the content is adult--I think Judy Blume always touches upon issues that teenagers struggle with.  I digress... 

 

YA is typically geared towards ages 14-21 and most certainly by the age of fourteen most kids have been around swearing.  If a character calls for it and it is part of their persona, I think curse words are completely appropriate.  To me, it doesn't matter if a novel is classified as Adult or YA--the characters need to be believable.   In my mind the only way to do that is to make them as realistic as possible and if that means you throw in a occasional curse word, so be it.  Worst case scenario--your Editor will have you take it out.

 

Best of luck!