Young Adult fiction has become a very popular topic in the past few years, as well as a very controversial one. Some hate it, others love it. Some love to hate it, others hate to love it.
By many, Young Adult is looked down on, thought of as ‘lesser’, or ‘unworthy’. Why is that? Who has dictated what we can and cannot read, what is proper and improper. As an English major, I have seen many people scoff at YA, arguing that the only books worth reading are the 100-year-old classics we are assigned. I have nothing against the classics, in fact, I love them. Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite novels. It is one of those books that they all brag about, with no fear of parading it around in public. What I do not understand is why my other favorites (The Grisha Trilogy, The Iron Fey, Throne of Glass, even Twilight), must be shunned, hidden because they are not ‘high class literature’ as a professor once called them.
I have heard it said that once you reach over the age of 18, then you should stop reading YA because it is childish, and uninteresting. I have heard it said that those who read YA cannot be considered intellectuals, that they could not possibly grasp the meanings of some of the greater works of fiction.
This was a fear that I had when I was growing up. I, as a child, did not like to read. English was not my first language and I found reading to be extremely difficult and so I shunned away from it. Then, one fateful day during the eight grade, my friend (Rosie) sat me down and told me to read Twilight. I did not want to, the size of the book alone frightened me, but then I did. I went home and I read that book in three days, and had finished the entire series in two weeks, a grand feat for someone whose definition of a long book was one that went over 200 pages. I had no idea that reading could be fun, and I fell in love with books, especially YA, ever since. I lived in literary bliss for a few years, then as I got older I began to worry. What would be expected of me when I was no longer a young adult? Will it be socially acceptable for me to be seen in the YA section of the library? Am I still allowed to love these books, even after I am older than the characters who are portrayed within them?
As silly as these questions are, they were actual things that went through my head. This fear was only confirmed by an experience I had.
Once I was sitting in the adult section of my local library, doing homework. On the table, next to me was a copy of the The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, that someone had left behind. The Iron Fey is one of my favorite series, The Iron Queen, being my favorite, and I had half a mind to pick up the book and bring it to my table. Just then two guys came in, an older gentleman, and a boy about my age (I was 18 at the time). The boy quickly picked up the book and laughed at it.
“This book looks so stupid,” he said to himself. Turning to the older gentleman he said, “can you believe I used to be into things like this?”
The older man said nothing. They seemed to be waiting for someone.
“These book,” he said, pointing down to the YA level which the adult section overlooked, “are written by children, for children.”
He then went on to say how he did not know why people bothered to read them? Why waste money on them? Why the were even relevant? All while I sat quietly doing my homework.
They remained in silence until a girl came up to them, she was about 14 and had a stack of YA books in her arms; she was the one they were waiting for. Before they got up to leave the boy looked at the stack and only smiled.
While this was happening, I felt both ashamed and enraged. I wanted to defend that book, while I wanted to pretend that I had never seen that book in my life. Later, I told Rosie about this and she only laughed.
“I would have gotten up and taken the book from his hands,” she told me. “Sat right back down and started reading it.”
I could not do that. But, Rosie was right. Why should I have felt bad because of what he said. I should not have felt bad about liking YA, or ever feel the need to justify it.
I am now 20 years old and I will love YA until the day I die. I love the stories, the characters, the easy way in which things flow. I love the way they make me laugh, and cry, and make me fall in love with them. Young Adult novels are what I read, ad will continue reading it. That does not mean that I won’t love adult books, or that I will not appreciate the classics, it simply means I will not be ashamed for loving YA. This is in part why we started this blog. I wanted to share my love for YA, and reading in general, with the world.
I hope you are all proud Young Adult readers, or readers of whatever it is you like, and are never ashamed of your love of books.