Jul 18, 2013

Busting YA Myths {the.book.chat.}

In a recent writing class, we were asked to share our reading habits and favorite authors.  And would you guys believe, I was the only person to claim Young Adult fiction. While everyone else was too busy name-dropping Virginia Woolf and Fitzgerald, I showed zero shame in announcing that John Green was the writer I admired most. I couldn't help but feel the intense stigma that young literature carried in my class (and to feel the stigma in an online class is saying a lot).  Who do they think is writing this stuff?  
As an avid YA reader (and defender), I have encountered some criticism surrounding the genre that really pushes my buttons.  Here are some major myths that I would like to expunge right now...

They are only for teenage girls.
I don't know exactly where that line is drawn, but I do know that it doesn't matter.  I read YA, and I'm clearly not a YA.  Just like you don't have to be a alien to like Sci-Fi, or a vampire to like Paranormal, or a ripped Highlander to like Historical Romance, you don't have to be a teenager to enjoy stories written about them.  The great thing about YA is there is something for everyone.  
YA recommendations for boys: The Maze Runner, Ender's Game, author: Walter Dean Myers.

They are easier and/or smaller than adult novels
While there are a wide variety of reading levels within young fiction, the assumption that it is all made simple is, quite simply, an insult.  There are a wide variety of reading levels in adult fiction too, and not all of them are Faulkner.  You'll find the same cast of literary devices within any YA novel as you will a contemporary one. And as for smaller, have you seen the doorstop that is the The Half-Blood Prince?
Proof: the poetry of Sonya Sones, historical fiction by Laurie Halse Anderson, the imagery of Tahereh Mafi

The characters are flat and stereotypical.
I admit, I have complained in the past of the Bella-mold protagonist before. "Clumsy and humble" does not a flawed character make.  It's true that YA does tend to lean more toward likeability with their character development, we can't dismiss it all. There are equally as many amazing and complex characters to come out of this genre.
Proof: The Book Thief, anything by John Green and David Levithan

The subject matter is less mature.
As if adults are fighting bigger battles than teenagers.  As if adults need relatable literature more.  Teenagers are only dealing with flirty romance and math quizzes, right?  Were you sleeping through The Breakfast Club? (look it up, kids)  You thought The Hunger Games was dark. Psh.
Proof: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, The Book Thief

It is not real literature.
While literature majors and contemporary writers are turning their noses up at the Young Adult genre, YA authors are making new readers everyday.  If kids are reading, what could you possibly have to complain about?  And who knows, maybe today's YA readers will grow up to be tomorrow's Adult readers...but then again, maybe not.  


YA has come a long way.  Do you know what the Young Readers shelf looked like when I was a teenager?  Teachers were giving us Hatchet and Island of the Blue Dolphins, and for entertainment, we had The Babysitter's Club and R.L. Stine.  While those were great, I would have devoured the YA shelves we have today.  What am I saying? I still do, even at 30. I remember reading The Giver as a young teen and falling in love, but I really had nowhere to go from there.  Now, the genre has a wide selection of dystopian, contemporary, romance, paranormal, LGBT, crime, history, sci-fi...I can keep going.  Can't you just feel the excitement around this entire genre right now?  I would be so honored to someday contribute to it. 


What are your thoughts on this genre?  What are some of your favorites?  I would love to hear your thoughts!  Link up below to share.

Our co-host today is the reason I've read most of the YA books that I've read.  She has great taste in music and books and shares them all on her blog.  Please add her to your reading list.  



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15 comments:

Megan said...

Great post! I agree. I definitely enjoy some YA from time to time and there are many more on my "to read" list. I agree with wishing there had been more books like this when I was a teenager. I've always been an avid reader and I've read at a higher level than my age. So, when I was in my mid teens, I started reading adult books simply because I'd read everything in YA that interested me.

angieeatspeace said...

I love your approach to this topic and busting the myths! I could not agree with you on all points more.

Sara Strauss {Sincerely, Sara} said...

Yes yes yes! I'm no longer a teenager (24), but I love YA novels and have no intention of stopping. I hate when people say that YA novels are lesser in some way than adult novels because they're for teens. Not true at all.

Great post!!
~Sara
Sincerely, Sara

Chantal said...

I like reading YA. It's not my go-to genre, but I enjoy it because sometimes it is easier to read than those hefty literary novels.

I'm about to start If I Stay. Hope it's good!

Brighton Harper said...

I've just started to discover that I like YA novels more than I thought I would. I kinda thought too that they would be a little under what I could relate so seeing as a lot of the characters are almost half my age but some of the ones I've read recently are some of the best I've ever read.

I agree that YA has come a long way since I was a YA and I think it's a great thing.

ohseems said...

I'm happy you wrote this post. I haven't picked up any YA lit in a very long time (probably because I'm trying to catch up on the other books hoarding my shelves). I do enjoy YA, there are some great novels out there. I think, perhaps, most people think of YA lit as something along the lines of Twilight and we all know how controversial that is. Honestly, one of my favorite novels is YA lit. I'm glad you aren't ashamed of reading YA lit. Sometimes, I feel that most people like to drop big name authors to look like they know what real lit is. We all love classic lit but we live in 2013 and people are still writing novels, it's time we appreciate those novels and authors as well.

Dara said...

great post! I did not even know the book thief was young adult until after I read it. we read it in my adult book club!

melissa said...

Love what you did with the topic!! It's so true, YA is just awesome. People who are prejudiced against it make me so mad!

Tanya Patrice said...

I've really enjoyed a lot of YA books - and some not so much - but then again, I feel the same way about adult books & classics!

Eyelah said...

I was just talking about YA books today with a friend. I do like the genre but I feel that too many adults read YA books as their main source of reading instead of a variety of books. Whenever I get a book recommendation it ends up becoming a YA book and as much as I don't mind reading them as light reading I don't find them very challenging.

That being said I do think that there are some challenging books. I felt that Ender's Game is a good example, Loved the Harry Potter boos, I LOVED The Giver, The Pigman is another example, or Eva. I don't mind the genre but I don't quite understand why so many adults stick to this genre and not branch out to more adult books.

Stephany said...

I definitely have much love for YA. It's not my favorite genre, but it's a close second! This is such a good rundown on why YA lit is such an awesome genre!

Lucy The Valiant said...

YES! I'm pretty shameless about my adoration of YA. It just seriously rocks. I think I find it to be (in general) a lot less pretentious and annoying than a lot of contemporary adult lit, which often leaves me cold.

scarves.etc said...

I teach Grade 7 English and high school ESL, therefore, I use and read a lot of YA books for my work and I love them! I like to read them because they are quick reads (most of them, and quick doesnt mean easy or shallow btw.) and because it helps me relate to what my students like, live, think and read about. I think I can better sell them reading as a cool thing (NOT an easy task with second language learners) when I have actually read and enjoyed the stories myself.
I like to have a good dose of YA books in my reading.

Fran said...

I love YA books, for a while I felt a little ashamed I enjoyed them so much but they're some amazing books in that category - The Book Thief, John Green's books, need I say more? haha

Megan C. Stroup said...

You better believe I have an old post to link up (that you guest starred in! haha). Sorry I'm late to the party. I just moved to a new apartment last week and we still don't have Internet, so I'm down at the library today catching up on all my blogs. Of course you were the first blog on my list. :) Get ready for lots of comments on old posts! Haha. Hopefully Internet will be up and running soon and I can return as a loyal book chatter!

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