This thesis has two major objectives: (1) To analyze the problematic nature of stereotypical gender portrayals in realistic YA novels directed at heterosexual and queer young men and women and (2) to encourage these novels and problematic gender issues to be integrated into instruction in a classroom setting. These popularly read YA novels tend to portray gender in two-dimensional ways, causing the autonomy of the characters to be limited and young readers of the novels to adopt conventions without question. Because these gender issues are often masked in the novels by an external traumatic event in the plot, readers are not encouraged to think critically about the gender portrayals of characters. By analyzing novels written for young women: The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green; novels written for young men: Skate by Michael Harmon, Twisted by Laurie Anderson, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky; and novels written for a LGBT+ audience: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, Keeping You a Secret by Julie Ann Peters, and Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez; I identify several patterns of problematic stereotypical gender portrayals. I conclude that, while some of the novels allow a reader to question characters’ portrayals of gender, in many instances problematic representations are encouraged. In my conclusion, I delineate a possible method of introducing these ideas into a classroom unit, allowing students to read critically and identify the problematic nature of the novels they read in their free time.


Prendergast, Maria




Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Other Education | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2014 Brooke Skiba