I can’t believe it’s taken be this long to jump on the #IReadYA bandwagon, but honestly I’ve had a hard time gathering all my thoughts into anything coherent. That’s how much I love reading and writing young adult novels.
It’s funny, because when I was in high school I wrote some really terrible poems and stories about adults which were (perhaps obviously) really unrealistic. I also was really obsessed with working my way through classic literature … viewing pretty much everything else I read as “light” or “guilty pleasure” reading.
It wasn’t until I had graduated from college that I really started immersing myself in YA fiction. Around the same time (while watching Oprah interview Stephanie Meyers actually) a fifteen-year-old character named Riley and a plot for a fantasy novel wandered into my head. Teaching middle school (albeit very briefly) and starting this blog gave me a reason to start reading broadly within the genre. Soon I was hooked.
Unlike my other reading/writing phases and experiments I felt really at home in YA literature. Four years later I still do. I’m even going to get my masters in writing specifically for children and teenagers.
I joke that my love of YA is regression. Sometimes when people ask me what I’m writing or why I’m going to school for writing for children instead of general fiction I respond by downplaying YA books. I say things like, “It’s been a lot of fun” or “I know it sounds really dorky” followed by a slightly embarrassed giggle. I don’t know why I do this. In the moment it feels more comfortable, but I always regret it afterwards.
I think young adult fiction is important. It tells the stories of characters going through an incredibly formative time in life. It can be innovative, clever, and experimental without relying on being dense or hard to read (ahem I’m looking at you literary fiction). It has an enormous power to help make someone a life long reader and really lend themselves to getting ridiculously excited and passionate about reading (i.e. fandoms).
In fact, many of the classics I was in such a hurry to read as a teen, I now think of as YA. They are books about falling in love for the first time, figuring out how to separate from your parents, and developing an identity. I don’t think it is beyond the scope of possibility that J.K. Rowling or John Green or Rainbow Rowell will someday be entered into the literary cannon.
So yeah, #IReadYA. And it has been such a fun week reading about other people that do to. Let me know in the comments why you read YA (or if you don’t you can tell me that too) and if you have any recs for me. If you are looking for a recommendation from me, tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll be happy to suggest a few titles.