I've hesitated to write this post because it's weird. And because I kept debating the appropriate subject line for it because it's so weird.
There's an odd trend I've noticed recently in my reading. I mean odd in that, over the course of the last two months, I've read this particular incident six separate times, and it's something that, prior to this series of incidents, I don't know I remember reading in the past. Or if I did it was so isolated it never made me pay attention. It's something I don't know I want to be paying attention to, but now that I've noticed it, I can't stop noticing it.
I guess you can call it the new vomit.
What is this trend, you ask? Well....it's when a character pees him or herself.
In all of the situations I've read this scene in -- and let me note that two of the books below have this happen twice to their characters in the course of the story -- none of the incidents have been related to laughing so hard that holding one's bladder becomes impossible. No. In every instance, it has been either trauma-related or, in the case of one instance, it was related to a health issue.
Since I've been asked about this and asked to name names about what books have done this, I've decided it was time to showcase this bizarre little trend. I'm going to post the covers of the books, the descriptions from WorldCat, and yes, I will highlight when said instances occur in the book to give it some context. It's possible there could be a little spoiling that happens. I've included links to reviews, where relevant, and I think the ones I haven't yet reviewed are likely sitting in the queue for future review.
But I'll be leaving the incontinence out of those reviews since I'm covering it well enough here.
When it happens: Del takes Vicodin before a talent show. It loosens her up but it really screws with her brain chemistry. When she's walking back to her apartment after the disaster of a show, she loses her bladder. Lucky for her, her pants have enough fabric to them to soak up the mess (since they're pants for a big girl).
All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin: Wealthy teen Thea Parott's jealousy of her older, prettier, more popular sister Alex prompts a series of self-destructive acts that threaten their seemingly-idyllic lives. Reviewed here.
When it happens: This is actually a significant plot point in the story. When Alex is at her internship -- the one she got through her step-father's connections -- she's so nervous and worried that she pees herself. It's horrific and embarrassing and a real sign of shame for Alex.
The Whole Stupid Way We Are by N. Griffin: During a cold winter in Maine, fifteen-year-old Dinah sets off a heart-wrenching chain of events when she tries to help best friend and fellow misfit Skint deal with problems at home, including a father who is suffering from early onset dementia.
When it happens: This might be cheating a little bit, but because my radar has been up on this one, I'm including it. Skint's father has early onset dementia, and in one of the scenes, his mother cannot handle being his father's caretaker any longer. She makes a scene, and during it, she shouts about how she can no longer handle him peeing himself.
Scowler by Daniel Kraus: In the midst of a 1981 meteor shower in Iowa, a homicidal maniac escapes from prison and returns to the farm where his nineteen-year-old son, Ry, must summon three childhood toys--Mr. Furrington, Jesus Christ, and Scowler--to protect himself, his eleven-year-old sister, Sarah, and their mother. This book comes out next month.
When it happens: This book gives readers two horrifying scenes of self-urination. Since both are huge plot spoilers, I'm going to talk around them as much as possible. The first happens in one of the grisliest scenes I've ever read before, and it involves someone being forced to pee themselves because they've been restrained in such a way they have no choice. This particular scene involves two characters, and it's the second character who remarks upon the first's incident. In the second instance of this, it's that second character who finds himself being the victim of his own incontinence. That instance is out of fear and trauma and horror. And I give Kraus some props for making that almost equally as horrifying to read about as the first instance.
Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn (description via Goodreads): Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself. He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost. But he’s also part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a family secret so painful it led three children to do the unthinkable. Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles the pain of his past and the isolation of his present. Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild thoughts inside his mind or learn that surviving can mean more than not dying. This book comes out in June.
When it happens: It's very near the beginning of the story. Win is the victim of bullying at school, and it involved him accidentally peeing all over himself. It doesn't come in the present, but the story opens in the immediate after -- and then he's reminded of the incident by someone he runs into.
Bruised by Sarah Skilton: When she freezes during a hold-up at the local diner, sixteen-year-old Imogen, a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, has to rebuild her life, including her relationship with her family and with the boy who was with her during the shoot-out. This book comes out next month.
When it happens: This is another two-for-one deal. In both instances, the main character pees herself out of fear and trauma. The story focuses on a girl dealing with PTSD, and her incidents come when the traumatic event first unfolds, and then it happens again much later in the story when she's reliving/experiencing memories of it.
This is my small list of books where a character -- usually a big player in the story -- pees him or herself. None of these are happy incidents. I mean. Not that they would be, but they aren't out of laughter.
Can you think of other recent titles where this has happened? All of the books above have published in the last few months or will be publishing soon. I think it's such a bizarre and odd little trend. It really does remind me a bit of the stress/fear vomit that seems to make its way into many YA titles.
(Also, it was very hard to write a post and not make jokes. I mean, rather than piss on others, YA characters are just pissing on themselves instead.)