Recently, Goodreads dedicated an entire week to the young adult genre. I learned about it through their emails and social media posts, and I thought it was a great idea. One post in particular really grabbed my attention:
The post declared “Be proud of what you read” and featured a photo taken of a sign at a library granting adult readers “permission” to browse, read, and enjoy books from the teen section.
I loved this post because so much of what it highlighted is what I love about young adult/ teen books. So I decided to follow in Goodreads’ footsteps and dedicate a blog post to the young adult genre.
Here they are…my top reasons for reading (and loving) young adult books:
1. They’re sweet.
A ton of YA is about first loves, first crushes, etc. Of course, there are romance books for adults, but those tend to be largely sexual in nature and rarely capture that “first love, butterflies in the stomach” feeling that is prevalent in YA. A married gal like myself doesn’t often get to have that “first date feeling” anymore. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that sometimes, well, I miss it. Everyone does. It’s fun to read about being young and in love for the first time and getting to revisit those feelings.
2. They’re adventurous.
Let’s face it, we’re braver when we’re younger. Or maybe we just aren’t jaded by the world yet. But, when you’re a teenager or young adult, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you and the world is waiting. Just like with the first love feeling, it’s fun to recapture that spirit of adventure and excitement about life and what lies ahead.
3. They’re contemporary and address today’s issues.
Sure, there’s adult fiction out there that addresses the latest scandals and dangers. But when’s the last time you read about an adult who was being bullied online? Or who had a risqué picture of her sent around social media? Exactly.
Contemporary issues stemming from internet use, cell phones, and social media are certainly present in adult fiction (side note: I highly recommend Emily Giffin’s new read All We Ever Wanted if you’re looking for such a book) but in the adult fiction books, the issue largely centers around, you guessed it, the adults. It’s about how it affects their lives and their kids and often has a political undertone. Rarely do we hear from the actual teens in question and get their points of view. I love YA that is written in the first person and actually takes us right into the situation alongside the main character. It’s just so compelling and emotional and really helps readers understand different points of view and develop empathy for others.
4. They have complex characters.
Without question, YA novels give me all the feels. The characters often experience a wide range of emotions during the story (I mean, they’re teenagers after all!) and we get to watch as these characters learn about who they are, who they want to be, and who they don’t want to be.
Character development in a YA novel is very different from character development in an adult novel. In adult novels, the main character is already grown and set in his or her ways. The story often revolves around someone learning to love again or learning to trust again. Well, in YA books, the characters are often learning to love and trust for the first time. We don’t follow the character as he or she changes, but as he or she develops, making choices and learning lessons that develop him or her into the person they will ultimately be. YA characters do more than grow, they grow up. And that, my friends, is intense.
Please don’t get me wrong with this post – I love adult fiction just as much as YA fiction. If you don’t believe me, then you should scroll through some of my past book reviews. I have tons of love for multiple genres of adult fiction. But there is definitely something to be said for the young adult genre too, and I think adults should read YA. If nothing else, it may help us “old folks” stay in touch with the younger folks, understand their struggles and issues, and help bridge the gap between generations.
How about you? Are you a fan of YA? Why or why not?