The teen & YA publishing world loves "issues." Especially an "issue du jour." Like cutting, gender identity, obesity & anorexia, school shootings, etc. Kids are drawn to tragedy and sensationalism, and publishers capitalize on that.
I think there may be an emerging trend of teen books about NUT ALLERGIES. Deadly ones. Here's why:
I was just going through the December 2012 issue of VOYA, and discovered a review of Janet Gurtler's Who I Kissed. It's a drama about a girl who eats a peanut butter sandwich, kisses a boy, and then the boy DIES because unbeknownst to the girl, he had a severe peanut allergy. But don't laugh! The reviewer refers to the book as a "...timely heartbreaker, designed to raise awareness about nut allergies..."
Maybe "peanut allergies" will be the next "paranormal romance!" All the teens will be clamoring for it.
I'm trying to be sensitive, but we had a student with peanut allergies a few years ago, and at a school function he stupidly ate something that had actual obvious peanuts in it. Not just something prepared with or near peanuts, but PEANUTS sitting there IN it, not even trying to be sneaky. Anyway, he had a bad reaction, had to go to the hospital, etc. He was fine, but it was a major scene and we had to discuss awareness of nut allergies and food preparation for students. It was hard to be very sympathetic, though, because maybe the kid, who KNEW he was allergic to peanuts, should have NOT EATEN PEANUTS.
So anyway, if you want to jump on the latest cutting-edge teen fiction trend, write something dramatic yet sensitive about the very real threat of NUT ALLERGIES. If you're REALLY ambitious, write a DYSTOPIAN teen novel about a future in which some murky government controls the populace by GIVING them peanut allergies through genetic engineering, and then controlling the food supply, thus being able to PUNISH those who disobey by slipping peanut oil into the food supply.
Wait-- that's my idea. I should write that.