Tuesday, November 13, 2012

For the love of YA

I love to read. You guys have probably picked up on that by now.

Something else you may have noticed is that I love to read books aimed at teenagers -- Young Adult books.

A final thing you may have noticed is that I am not a teenager.

So. What's with all the YA?

I recently read The Perks of Being a Wallflower (review here). And I started to hit on the idea when I said this:

"I think this book probably speaks to a lot of teens where they're at, and that's what YA is all about. Young adults go through a lot of stuff. For a lot of teens, deciding whether to drink, have sex, do drugs -- that's the world they're facing."

I love that.

I LOVE that.

I love that teens can find books that deal with the exact feelings they're dealing with.

I love that even when they feel like no one in their world can understand them, they can find a character going through something similar they can relate to. And they can find a character that comes out on top, that gets the best of the challenges they face, that succeeds in the face of all that is wrong in the world.

And it's not just contemporary YA (realistic YA as opposed to sci-fi YA).

Because even if you're not tossed into the Hunger Games yourself, you can relate to Katniss' love for her younger sister. You can relate to her will to survive. Her fear, her terror, her hope, her doubt.

Those are all real things that real people feel, even if they're not in the Hunger Games.

And I love that many of these things aren't "teen" issues. They're human issues. Regardless of how far past my teenage years I am, I still feel left out sometimes. I still feel ignored. There are still mean girls and All-American guys. There's still family issues. There's still hope and despair and love and devotion.

These are the feelings you get when you read YA.

Here's something you all might not know -- I've always dreamed of writing YA. I was a creative writing major, and still hope to someday write that novel.

And what sucks is that there's this weird perception that just because a book is written for teenagers means it can't be a good book. I hate that. I've seen people review YA books on their blogs and call themselves teenyboppers, act almost embarrassed that they've read something like The Hunger Games or Insurgent. What's with that?

My favorite author, Sarah Dessen, writes contemporary YA. She once spoke at BEA and said this:

"Worst of all, though, was when a novelist and national book award winner came to my alma mater to speak. I was lucky enough to be introduced and was completely starstruck. 'This is Sarah,' they said to the author. 'She writes young adult books.' The author looked at me and smiled. 'Well, someone's got to do it,' she replied...

When I read a great book, I'll recommend it to a friend, or praise it on my Twitter feed... But teenagers, especially teenage girls, they take it to a whole other level. They shriek. They fill online reviews with endless exclamation points. They say, 'This is my life. This is my school. These are my parents. How did you know?' I so remember that feeling of finding something in a book that resonated with me, that made me feel like I was somehow less alone in the world, not the only one who thought this or felt this. ... it's what brings me back to the computer, on bad writing days, after not so great reviews, when I'd much rather be watching reruns of The Real Housewives on Bravo.

Because despite the intended dis, that national book award winning author was right. Someone does have to write for teens and children. Someone needs to reach out to them in their homes, in their schools, in their hearts, and show them, whatever they're going through, whatever they feel, they are not alone. It's a big job. It's not for everyone. But today especially, standing here, I am so, so glad that one of them is me."

Ah. Gives me chills.

Have you guys read much YA? I highly, HIGHLY recommend it.

Just for reference, here's a list of the YA books I've reviewed on my blog.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Chime by Franny Billingsley
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
How They Met, and Other Stories by David Levithan
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Missing You by Meg Cabot
Moonglass by Jessi Kirby 
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi 
Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
Stay by Deb Caletti
Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

And here's some other YA you might know and possibly love.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (and all his books)
The Matched series by Ally Condie

Beth Revis, the author of Across the Universe and its sequels, is holding an awesome contest where you could win almost 50 signed YA books. Amazing. Obviously, I'm entering this post and hoping to win.

But regardless of the contest, this is something I love. This is one of my passions. And I'm glad her contest encouraged me to share it with you.

So tell me... What's your favorite YA book?


Katie said...

LOVE THIS! John Green is one of my very favorite authors and you are so right when you say they aren't just "teenage issues", they're human issues. It just so happens that the characters are teenagers. I am not ashamed to say that I read YA and love it. Some of the best authors live in YA Land, I do believe :)

Sara said...

I just love this post! Seriously, you hit the nail on the head with this one! :-)

I read YA a majority of the time, and I am not ashamed to admit it. I have a few family members that ridicule some books that fall in this genre, and I've never understood it. It's relatable material; it's entertaining; and it deals with real issues/things.

Kate said...

I obviously looove YA. It's one of the perks of working in a high school library. I get to read a lot of it, and I pretend it's professional development! hahaha.

But regardless, you really nailed it with this one. Like you said, they are human issues. I also feel like I can relate to them a bit more. I've been through high school. I've been through a first love and a first break up. I've been through the stress along with the carefree days.

But then I look at some of these books that are more "adult", I realize that I don't relate to a single mother. Or a divorcee. Or a CEO of some company. Is it interesting? Sure. But I'm less likely to feel a connection to those books.

Kristen said...

So agree with everything you said. And that's why I love YA more than anything myself. So much more relatable.

Amy said...

GIrl, YES YA is where it is at! Screw adult fiction, i would rather have teen/ya drama any day! :)
Do you have a goodreads account?!!?
If you do i need your addy!!! :) :)

Kaitlyn's Life and Blogs said...

oh Abbey!! you know how much I LOVE LOVE this post!! :)

Have you read an excerpt from her new book that comes out next year?? I can't wait!! If you haven't here you go:


And you might freak about this. My professor who is teaching my YA class worked with Sarah Dessen's dad. He is an English professor in NC.

Anonymous said...

Nice--can feel the passion. BTW, here is what Sarah Ockler posted on FB today: "NaNoWriMo-ing friend coming over to write tonight. On the menu? Homemade vegetarian chili and cornbread. Hope it's inspirational!"

Just keep writing! From your fav fan who forgets passwords. ;)

Amanda said...

Well I just discovered your blog and I'm totally hooked. I feel like I know you after reading 5 posts. Which is probably creepy but I mean it as a compliment on your writing!
And I love YA fiction too but I've felt more and more self concious about that lately since I'm 22 and now a college graduate. Thanks for posting about this!


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