I am trying to settle on an age for my heroine in my current WIP: The Unexpected Enlightentment of Rachel Griffin.
In the original, Rachel Griffin was:
1) Young enough that, since she is a tiny Asian girl and not yet developed, she looked like a child.
2) Young enough that the idea of snogging seemed unnatural and frightning to her.
3) Too young to have a boyfriend in her parents'---and nearly everyone else's--mind.
4) Young enough that her boyfriend--who was three years older than her--got teased merciously for dating someone so young.
5) Young enough that, when she later developed unnaturally quickly--due to a magical effect, her rather intimate encounter with a much older boy was shocking and appalling to the boy (and everyone else) once he realized what had happened.
(Note: this scene takes place about a year after the beginning, so she will be a year older than her starting age by this time. )
My question is: How old can I make her?
In the original game, she was 11. Personally, I think 11 is too young. Also, it is too Harry Potterish. (She originally comes from a Hogwarts game.)
My question is: how old can she be and still be legitimately shocked at the idea of intimacy, like snogging, and have everyone else think she is too young for a boyfriend?
My current thought is to make her 13--but I know a number of very curvy 13 year olds. I also know some late blooming ones--so if she's a late blooming 13 year old from a sheltered background, it seems to me realistic that she could have all of the above reactions.
But...does it seem realistic to the rest of you? Basically, I'm not sure what 13 year olds are like now. Do they all snog? Are most of them sheltered and shy?
I think I could definitely get away with making her 12, but 12 seems awfully young for the things that happen to her, almost perverse. I'd rather make her 13. However, it is supposed to be a YA. I don't want all the young readers to be sneering because the heroine is so behind the times. (She comes from a strange background, so if she is a little behind the times, that is okay.)
So...how old would you make her?