YA vs The Rest of the World

weird things in YA novelsYeah, what a well-phrased title!

For those of you who don’t know, I live in Cape Town, situated at the bottom of that mysterious and misrepresented continent – Africa.

As an avid YA reader, however, there are many things that I find utterly strange in these books – due to the fact that they are mostly based in the USA, and life is a tad different in your neck of the woods.

So let’s get into it, shall we? Here’s a list of the shiz that just doesn’t resonate:

  1. You can drive yourself to school. Your school has a student parking lot where you seem to spend a lot of time hanging out. Your parents let you get into a car with someone who has just got their license.

Over here, you can only get your driver’s license aged 18. So there ain’t no driving yourself anywhere. You rely on the parentals to taxi you around. By the end of my last year of school, there were only like 5 people who were driving themselves to school. Also, no way in hell my mother was letting me travel ANYWHERE with someone who just got their license. And how does everyone have a car?! That shit’s expensive.

  1. You just hop and off public transport, free as a daisy.

This is something of a class thing here, but if you’re middle class, you probably don’t use public transport alone as a teenager because your parents think you’ll be murdered.

  1. You sneak out the house


Try getting past security alarms, motion sensors, multiple door locks, barking dogs, extremely alert parents, the night time neighbourhood watch patrols…and then how would you get around if you and your friends can’t drive? Bad plan, homie.

  1. After school jobs

Sure, many of us get part-time jobs as a teenager, but these are for the weekends and holidays. I don’t know of anyone who had one after school – only ending at 3pm, and having to get home and do homework doesn’t leave much time for money-earning activities. (Unless its babysitting, or something like that.)

  1. Sneaking alcohol

In almost all countries of the world, the drinking age is 18. So we don’t really need fake IDs or have to bribe other people to buy our alcohol – we can all get our own drinks! (or at least, our already-18 friends in our group can do it for us and it’s not such a big deal as its made out to be in books).

  1. You seem to plan your outfits for school

Uniforms over here, yo. Makes life a lot easier, although today I still have a strong aversion to the colour brown.

  1. Parties when the house gets trashed

As far as I know, the raucous parties are cordoned off to one part of the house. And destruction tends to be limited to the breaking of a couple of glasses.

But maybe I just wasn’t invited to the cool house-trashing parties.

Scratch that, I definitely wasn’t invited to the cool house-trashing parties.


And as for the rest of you? What thing do you find completely out of place in YA novels that just don’t translate to your country?



8 thoughts on “YA vs The Rest of the World

  1. LOL. I’m just reading Trevor Noah’s memoir about growing up in South Africa so I know a thing or two about how different it is. For one, yeah, it’s not safe and if I were a parent living there, I don’t know if I can just be willy nilly about the safety of my kids. In Canada, 15.5 years is when kids are allowed to take driving lessons. By 16, they can take their driving test. They are however, not allowed to drive all by themselves for a year after passing the test. They have to be accompanied by an adult driver (18 and up). The legal drinking age in Canada is also 18 so no need for fake IDs. My kids go to a private school so they wear uniforms.

    I love getting a glimpse of the differences between different countries. It’s really fascinating.

    Thanks for sharing, Hannah!


    1. Whenever friends and I go out, we always message each other after so that we know everyone got home safe. It’s a small thing like that that we don’t realise isn’t actually universal! Actually, we have something similar – we can get our learner’s license at 16 – which means we can learn to drive after that, with a licensed person in the car with us. But yeah, it’s definitely fascinating for me to see the differences in the different countries for things we think are so normal!


  2. Omg I related more to yours than to the US ones too!! In Australia you don’t get your license until 18 and even then…like yeeeah, who can afford a car?!? And my parents NEVER let me in a car with a teenager anyway either.😂 And basically the entire american school system completely baffles me, with their no-dress-code and just how all the cliques and social pyramids work and omgggg. NOPE.😂 This is why I prefer reading fantasy!


    1. Gah, my school also had social groups/cliques but we weren’t vicious to each other – like if you had to work in a group, everyone just got it done. Obviously there were mean girls but nothing like its depicted in the YA books I’ve read! And while I was annoyed with my horrible brown uniform during my school days, it definitely made life so much easier.


  3. HAHA I love this post so much! I’m an Aussie and there are just so many things based in the US that baffles me as well – I mean I’m used to it from all the TV and books I read, but it’s just very different to Australia. Like the lack of school uniforms…I mean I get that clothes are a lot cheaper in the US due to the consumption rate per capita…but having uniforms are just so much easier and one less thing to think about every morning! Also all the mean high school cliches…maybe it’s just me, but no one in my high school ever behaved in such nasty ways.

    The whole licence and driving to school with your friends thing is quite common in Australia, as most of us can get our licences starting from 16. And I feel quite safe in this country, so have not experienced a really strict lifestyle where I wasn’t allowed to take public transportation by myself. In fact, I used to take the train to school every day!

    Very thought-provoking post, thanks for writing it!

    Joy @ Thoughts By J


    1. Thank you for your wonderful comment! It’s so interesting to hear about everyone’s difference experiences.

      School uniforms, as much as they annoyed me at the time, definitely made life easier. It was almost a shock when it came to holidays, and I had this whole cupboard full of clothing to show off!

      And while we also had cliques at school, nobody was every getting their head flushed down the toilet or slammed into lockers or anything like that. Phew.


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