There has been many a post on social media over the last week about young adult fiction and who is reading it. With the release of The Fault in Our Stars movie, teens and adults alike have been flocking to the cinemas to see it. Why? Because of the hype it has generated. Everywhere I go I see the familiar flash of blue (and possibly a tear or two) and I smile to myself. It is so exciting to see a book making such an impact. People are reading… they are talking about books and encouraging others to do so. With all the criticisms that are circling around adults reading young adult novels, I find myself wondering why…. Why does it matter? Why should we care?
I have always read. My tastes have grown and matured over the years but I have always gravitated back to YA. I love the stories they tell. I love the honesty of the writing… Teenagers are so transparent in their thinking. They are obnoxious and grandiose in their know-it-all-attitudes, they wear their hearts on their sleeves and their brains in their pants. So why is this so endearing? Perhaps it is something we can all relate too. As adults, we have all been through that time in our lives where we might have been the shy band-geek, the hot jock, the princess, the emo kid or the nerd with a book in her hand. There is something about YA that allows us to identify with our own childhood and the experiences that we have had. I love how a crush is not a crush but earth-shattering love, a friend is a friend and then a mortal enemy, and parents are the daggiest things around except when you need a lift in the early hours of the morning because you accidently got off the last train …. (true story!).
That’s not to mean that I don’t read ‘adult ‘ books. I read a wide variety of genres and enjoy them all. I will happily sit down and read a timeless classic, a piece of award winning literature or a fluffy romance novel. I plodded through The Luminaries, swore at Eyrie, raged at Twilight and fell in love with Harry Potter. At work I procrastinate by reading picture books and at night I snuggle under the covers with a contented sigh no matter what I am reading. Not everybody reads a wide variety of genres… some people don’t read at all! If the thing that gets them inspired is a teen book then the author has accomplished something great and their job is done. There are times when I have been openly critical of certain books on the market but at the end of the day, if they get people reading then that is what’s important. Reading is such a wonderful past time, that we should encourage everyone, no matter what his or her preferences are!
In a fabulous tweet by Jennifer Weiner, she said “Dear Y.A, Don’t let the bastards get you down! Your Friend, Chick Lit”. Now this really made me laugh because she has summed it up perfectly. There is good and bad in every genre and criticisms of all kinds. Romance and chick lit cop a lot – the so-called low point of literature. And yet literature itself and literary works have been called pretentious, snobby and segregating because they assume an air of intelligence and importance.… I have seen and heard it all. The YA genre is just the latest victim of genre bashing and it will pass soon enough when the next big thing arrives.