Skip to main content

Why Would a Grown-Up Read Young Adult?

There are two kinds of grown-up readers in the world.  Grown-ups who enjoy young adult fiction and grown-ups who deride young adult fiction.

Maybe I'm exaggerating.  But I've never met someone my own age or older who didn't either admit, maybe a little sheepishly, "Yeah, I'm reading that Marie Lu Legend trilogy...and I like it a lot" or state adamantly, "I don't get why grown people read kid books." No one seems to be on the fence, unopinionated, just kind of meh on young adult lit.

I'm not saying grown-ups have to like young adult books.  Not at all.  To say that would imply that everyone should like everything, and we all know that's not a realistic outlook.  I don't care for romance novels.  There, I've said it.  I'm not big on most epic fantasy.  Don't make me read Dickens, because you know what? His novels make me roll my eyes.  (Now, his short fiction, on the other hand...but I digress). 

But I'm not going say I don't understand why people read romance, or epic fantasy, or Dickens.  There's something to connect to in each, if you're seeking that particular connection.

I think that people who don't see why adults read young adult don't understand the connection adults make with the books.  They see young adult as a genre that's written about adolescents, for adolescents.

That's not really the case.  Young adult is a genre written about adolescence, not for adolescents

That might seem obtuse.  Here's the thing.  Adolescence isn't just a period of rapid physical growth, unfortunate acne, and confusing hormones.  Adolescence is a period of self-discovery, change, and growing into oneself. 

If you think that people, once they can vote, buy a beer, and rent a car have finished discovering themselves, changing, and growing, then I say that a) it makes sense why you don't connect with young adult literature and b) I think you're wrongsies.  Wrongsies on so many counts.  I've grown and changed--fundamentally changed--through so many adult experiences.  Marriage, new jobs, having a kid, moving--all experiences that foment personal change.

And all experiences that connect to what you might read in young adult literature. 

Katniss takes Prim's place in the Games and says "Shoot dang, who I was and what I did prepared me a little bit for this, but not nearly enough.  I need to change.  I need to change, fast."  I got married and say "Wowza, who I was before and the experiences I had give me some framework for this relationship, but not nearly enough.  I need to adapt."

Harry Potter finds out he's a wizard and says "Oh man, who the heck am I now? I thought I was one person, and I find I'm something else." I had a child and say "Wow, does this change who I am? I thought I was one person, and now I discover new elements of my personality."

Life keeps changing, we keep changing.  We keep learning more about who we are.  That element of adolescence never really ends.  And I'm in no way saying that reading young adult lit is the only way to connect to that fundamental experience, or that, if you don't enjoy YA, you're a stagnant and unchanging person.  Just like, if you don't like romance novels, I would never assume you have a black and bitter heart incapable of love. 

But we read, in many ways, to connect.  And there is something unique in what we connect to in YA, for those of us who enjoy it.

Or maybe we're just perpetually seventeen.

What do you think?  Is Young Adult for everyone, or are adults who gravitate toward it "reading down?" 

Comments

  1. I definitely think it can be for everyone - I loved Hunger Games, and you can pry my Harry Potter out of my cold, dead hands - but I'd disagree about the definition. Young adult fiction can be about adult (or child) characters, and adult fiction can have teenage protagonists; it's more about the style, tone, plot, and pacing to me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Cassidy! I agree that the definition of YA as a genre is much bigger and more complicated than what I've talked about here--I was trying to put on my reader hat and leave my writer hat off for a little while, and just think about how I connect to books.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

In Which I Finally Get to Say: Orbit is Publishing My Book!

I realize I’ve been a little quiet around here recently.  Moms of toddlers will tell you that it’s when things get quiet in their houses that they know *something* is happening.  With toddlers, silent happenings are usually not a good thing.  In writing? They can be a really awesome thing.
Long story short (when does that ever happen writing novels?): I’m incredibly excited to announce that Orbit will be publishing my novel Torn in spring of 2018—and even more exciting, we’ll be publishing a trilogy! The story follows a seamstress who can embed good luck charms into her creations--and becomes entangled in a revolution.
Obligatory Publisher's Marketplace screenshot--because this little blurb means this is super-duper, 100%, don't bother pinching me official!


Long story less short: Want to have the most exciting day of your career and then sit on the news for months? Then writing and publishing books is for you!  This has been in the works for a while, and though I’ve known for…

In Which the Writer Fills Out a Form

I've been writing for years.  Even if I only count the years of "this is getting sorta serious, aiming for publication," it's been a long time.  In that time--about a decade--I never identified myself publicly as a writer.

I thought of myself that way--if I had to pick a few words that make up my personal self-portrait, "writer" would be one of them.  But I didn't introduce myself that way to other people, or talk about it on Facebook or in those polite small-talk conversations at parties. Some close friends knew that I wrote steadily; a few knew where I was in the long, circling road to publication.  I suppose, if you cornered me, I didn't feel like I'd earned that moniker--I hadn't sold a book, I couldn't claim it as a profession, I wasn't "really" a writer in a way that the world at large would understand.

Which is fine--this isn't one of those empowering posts about owning who you are and claiming the name "Wri…

New Year! New Goals!

It hit me as we toasted with pink bubbly and shared the highlight reel of 2017 around my friend's dining room table--this is the year my debut novel comes out.  WHAT.  For all of 2017's faults--and I don't mean to downplay them, especially for anyone who really struggled this year--it brought a lot of very positive change for me and my family.  An interstate move brought my husband a job he can excel at and took us closer to family and my "ancestral homestead" where we plan to build a house.  We had a baby, and we're all smitten with our second daughter. 
And I sold my debut novel (plus two sequels). 
This is all good stuff--really good stuff!--but as I told a friend at the end of summer, my life felt a little bit like the new car I was driving (yeah, had to buy a new vehicle, too--the newness of 2017 just didn't let up). It was nice, it was better, even, that what I'd had before, and I liked it a lot, but it didn't really feel like mine.  2017 wa…