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Baby You Can Drive My . . .err Wanna Take the Bus?

Some novels are meant to transport a reader into a new world while others strive to portray the everyday, normal teenage existence. Been a little too long since you've been there? Me, too. Before you send your character off on a midnight drive, you might want to consider if they're even licensed to be behind the wheel after eleven o'clock at night.

This nifty website has a drop down menu to select any state in the US to see restrictions for drivers under eighteen.

Wondering what textbook your character will pretend to read while secretly making eyes at someone a few rows over? While curriculum varies, this wikipedia article breaks down education in the states and what's required by section (middle school, junior high, high school).

Does your character work after school? The U.S. Department of Labor site will outline requirements for work permits, how many hours a minor may work and how late.

Think the legal drinking age is 21 in all states? Not necessarily. There are exceptions to this rule including religious, medical, private clubs, or even the presence of a consenting adult. This website breaks it down and also includes the legal drinking ages around the world.

Family dynamics play a role in almost all novels. The single parent home is a common denominator in many YA novels, and with good reason. This site lists the percentage of single family homes by state. The chart on the side also links to some other great demographics for teen population, ethnicity, pregnancy, poverty, and high school dropout rates.

Not all novels are meant to mimic real life. The emotions and choices your characters make are ultimately what readers connect to. That being said, just because our stories are fictional doesn't mean it hurts to do some fact checking. If you're looking for things that teens will identify with in their day to day routines, these links can provide some great information.
Amanda Hannah

Amanda grew up on a big farm in a small town with one stoplight, one school, and a handful of imaginary friends.She would’ve gone to college forever, but eight years and five majors tested her advisor’s patience. So she moved to Germany to explore creepy castles before landing in Spain where she’s perfecting her Flamenco.

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  1. Great links. Growing up in NJ, we had to wait until we were 17 to get driver's licenses, and that's something I was always aware of when I was reading books. You could tell right away a book wasn't set in NJ when someone was driving a car at 16.

  2. Thanks for the links! Fact-checking definitely never hurts. :)

  3. Love this post! Months ago, I actually researched driving and permit laws in PA, along with school age requirements, and ended up making my main characters a year older but in the same grade.

  4. Excellent information! I love it when an author does their homework and portrays things realistically!

  5. This is an awesome resource! I went nuts searching DMV for regulations.

  6. This is such a great post. So helpful!

  7. Thanks for these great links! Being Canadian, I'm pretty clueless about some of these details when it comes to a U.S. setting.

  8. Awesome post. Especially helpful to us Canadians who are writing characters who live in the states.

  9. this is all stuff I NEVER EVEN THOUGHT OF. *bookmarks*

  10. Ooh, great post! We don't want readers pulled out of our stories because we mess up the authenticating details! Thanks! :)


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Item Reviewed: Baby You Can Drive My . . .err Wanna Take the Bus? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Amanda Hannah