Why I Love YA!

Written By: Kellie - Jun• 06•11

There has been a lot of hubub in the YA community over the past few days concerning an article in the Wall Street Journal, bashing YA fiction as a whole. The upside? YA lovers everywhere really came together to speak up about the genre they love. It’s been phenomenal. There were oodles of tweets on the topic of #yasaves, where people told their stories about how YA has helped them through the roughest patches of their lives.

This has really gotten me thinking about how much I love this genre. I make a point of shelving the teen cart as often as I can at work, just so I can look at all the pretty covers. Even more than I like to shelve fantasy books. Teen books have just come so far, there is such variety, brilliant writing and really something for everyone. While I haven’t been a teen for a couple of years now, most of what I read (maybe 65%) is YA. Interestingly enough, I’m reading more YA now than I was as a teen. I just find the stories so much more fulfilling then a lot of the alternatives.

As someone who works in a bookstore, it really bothers me how ill informed the WSJ is about the genre as a whole. The teen shelves aren’t just lined with dark, gritty and depressing books that don’t portray how most parents want to see the world their teens live in. Anyone who can’t see that isn’t opening their eyes. Isn’t seeing this genre for what it is. I’m dying to know how the author of this article is taking the outcry in response.

Now, I don’t really read a lot of the darker books that the WSJ article was referencing, but I support them 100%. Life isn’t always cupcakes and puppies (I’ll keep wishing for it anyways), kids are facing a lot of really difficult situations and having books that show them they aren’t alone is huge. At the same time, if teens (or their parents) are looking for something a little more clean cut and “wholesome”, that’s there too. There are tons of reworked fairytales and sappy romances if your looking to escape your reality rather than delve into it’s darkest corners.

What my store calls the 9-12 genre (middle grade) has tons of the type of books that teach strong moral lessons as well as exciting adventures. What I especially love is that some of the best books from earlier generations are still in print. so parents who want their children to read the same things they did, totally have that option. Babysitters club, Judy Blume and Nancy Drew are all readily available (okay, I only really know the girl books). So when kids are in that specific age group they aren’t being bombarded with too much darkness, there is still a sense of innocence. Once you reach your teens though, you need something a little different, you need to take away more from what you’re reading. And no two people need the same thing from books, we all have our own reasons for getting lost in the written word. In teen there is something for everyone, you can take what you need and leave the rest.

Anyways, I’ve gone off on a tangent because I could talk about these books forever and now I can’t help but look at things from the book store perspective as well as the blogger. I should even throw in that what I write is slowly edging away from fantasy and into YA because I’m continuously falling more in love with the genre. Not that I especially think I will ever write a book that could save a life, or even change one… but just imagine the possibilities.

I just love how everyone is speaking out and giving their take on things There have been some beautifully written rebuttles to this article, which really speak to why this genre is so important for teens and so important. One that comes to mind can be found at Word for Teens. Seriously, fantastic article.

YA is important, crucially so. The tweets I’m seeing have blown me away. I never imagined how much good these books were doing, they have literally saved lives, and will continue to do so, and not just teen lives. It’s a beautiful, wonderful, inspiring genre that deserves more than a little credit.

Part of me has toyed with the idea of switching this blog to purely YA because I just love these books so much, but I believe there’s room for a little variety in life, book selection and blogging. But one thing I do know is I’ll be reading teen books til I’m eighty (probably while squinting at super large print, reading on the high tech ereader of the future).

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  1. SO well said Kellie!!!!
    I LOVE YA and I guess I missed all of the drama about it.
    (BTW – LOVE the new blog design!!) :)

  2. April says:

    I agree with you completely. I’ve been out of my teen years for much too long now (okay, not toooo long, because frankly, I’d never go back), yet I read YA more now than I did as a teen. I think that there are a lot of issues out there that need to be tackled. For teens afraid to talk to an adult…well, there’s a book out there for it all. Teens aren’t what they used to be. They aren’t the 50’s happy go-lucky, do whatever mom and dad say kids anymore. And even if they are, as you mentioned, there are plenty of books out there on the more lighter side. You mentioned some of the greats – I LOVED The Babysitter’s Club when I was about 12/13.

    Great post! It’s only fairly recently that I’ve come to appreciate YA, but I do now more than ever, and I don’t turn down a book just because it’s YA. In fact, the first book I wrote in which I’m very proud (and plan to re-query this weekend) turned out to be YA without me even trying.

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