About two months ago, fellow blogger/author, C.B. Wentworth, tagged me in the Love-Hate Challenge. The rules of the Love-Hate Challenge are simple:
- Make a list of 10 things you love
- Make a list of 10 things you hate
- Nominate ten bloggers
As a YA author and avid YA reader, I thought I’d tailor this challenge to what I love and hate about YA lit. Well, maybe ‘hate’ is too strong a word. Let’s go with ‘not too fond of’. Yeah. That sounds better.
Ok, so here we go. Ten things I love about Y.A. lit.:
- I know it sounds weird, but there’s a part of me that loves reliving those teen years, when every emotion is dangling on some sort of precipice, where every turn in life beckons you to walk through an open door filled with immeasurable opportunities. I love reading about characters who are trying to figure out who they are and where they belong while battling life and conquering the struggles and adversities thrown at them. Some of them are absolutely heartbreaking. I love seeing young characters fight for their beliefs, to prove to others they can think for themselves while displaying amazing resilience and courage.
- YA touches upon timeless, universal issues that teens around the world go through. First love, first crush, heartache, family issues, challenging authority. It’s a way for all young readers to ‘connect’ on an emotional level. The themes resonate among young and old alike.
- When we are seventeen, we are invincible. There seems to always be hope, a way out; a way in. The characters always find a way to resolve whatever problem gets in their path. Teens love being able to read about people like them, facing unbelievable odds, kick some serious butt and win without the over-protectiveness of an adult. They like believing they can think for themselves, do for themselves. They find an emotional freedom they may not have in ‘real life’.
- Teens feel inspired by YA. Who didn’t love Augustus Waters in The Fault in Our Stars, and who didn’t weep with joy and sadness as we took his journey? He was an amazing book boyfriend, the kind of guy a lot of girls would love to have: witty, charming, loving, and above all, sacrificing.
- YA engages teen readers. I’ve known lots of adults who have given their kids books to read like Of Mice and Men (which is an awesome book), or The Great Gatsby, but they don’t resonate with teens. Give them some HUNGER GAMES, or ALL THE RIGHT PLACES, or MOSQUITOLAND, and they’re hooked. These stories are about them, their lives, their friends. It’s a private world where grown-ups aren’t allowed, a place only teens can understand. A place where they are not judged for who they are.
- YA is diverse. It can span every genre you can think of. You want fantasy, you’ve got it. LGBT? It’s starting to hit the shelves. Contemporary, dystopian, political … there is no one right book to read, and they have huge followings, so you can easily connect with other fans via social media to talk up your fave book.
- As a YA author, I love finding that teen in me that wanted to do so much but didn’t because I grew up in a military family and I was always terrified to buck the horse. This way, I can break the rules. Have fun. Be crazy. The world is mine in YA world, and I am only limited by my imagination as to what my characters can and will do. It’s pretty liberating.
- Good YA spurs passion, excitement. Remember when Harry Potter first hit the scene? Word of mouth was nuts. Now they are classics in every sense of the word, and the staying power is phenomenal. Readers, old and young, adored these books. They talked about them, dressed like the characters. They had Harry Potter parties. They stood in line for hours to get the books, and are still spending money like crazy at the Orlando theme park, as if somehow going there is the same as going to the real Hogwarts or Diagon Alley. J.K. Rowling hit every level of every author’s dream. I can only imagine how it would feel to have this incredibly, loyal fan base.
- Good YA books spawn movies. This can be a great thing, like in the Harry Potter franchise or Hunger Games, Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, etc. It can be a bad thing, too, such as Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones. There is so much detail and world-building in her Mortal Instrument series that the movie didn’t do it justice, in my opinion. A multi-season tv show would have been better. Nonetheless, movies bring YA books to life, and allow those who don’t read the opportunity to experience the YA world. I know my husband was totally pissed over the storyline in the Hunger Games. All I could say was the books were so much better.
- YA lit is teen ‘glue’. It doesn’t matter what background teens are from, with YA lit, the stories bond teens from all over the world. They all can live safely in the same stories without fear. Who didn’t know where Number 4 Privet Drive was? Readers from around the world all wanted to step onto Platform 9 and ¾ and take that train to Hogwarts. It didn’t matter if the reader lived in rural America, the wilds in Africa, or a home of the rich and famous. Every teen, every YA fan, took those journeys with Harry and his friends. We found a commonality despite our political beliefs, our personal persuasions, or sometimes radical differences. Good YA doesn’t care if its readers are rich or poor, black or white, young or old. It does remind us, however, that we are all the same underneath. We are all human, with the same emotions, the same fears, the same struggles, and our community is vast. Through YA lit, teens realize they are not alone, no matter how much they may feel they are. Oh, and parents? Reading YA can also be a great way for kids and parents to open dialog. Parents, find out what your kids are reading and read it, too. Start a conversation that doesn’t revolve around homework, messy bedrooms, and curfews. Experience YA. Discover your child. Get involved. Bond.
Tomorrow I’ll let you in on what I don’t care for in YA. I hope you tune in.