“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”
Trending on my Twitter feed this week is #PromoteYAinstead , based on an article by Ruth Graham which basically states that adults should be embarrassed to still be reading YA fiction and should instead move on to adult literary fiction. The people I follow on Twitter are incensed by this opinion, as am I. Granted, my feed is full of YA authors, so this is not terribly surprising.
After reading the article, and after getting over my initial sputtering, angry reaction: “Who the hell is this woman to denigrate me for enjoying YA fiction?” (Nice vocab, I know), I spent some time reflecting on why I prefer to read (and write) YA. I came to the conclusion that I just like a good story. That’s it. It doesn’t matter what age it is supposedly written for, or even what genre it is supposed to be neatly tucked into. I like a good story with interesting characters. Sometimes I like the characters (who doesn’t love Tobias Eaton?) and sometimes I despise the characters (love to hate Draco Malfoy), but I love books that draw me into their world. For a short time, say 350 pages or so, I can forget that I have a dishwasher to empty, dogs to walk, or a dusty home gym languishing without me, and I can have a great adventure or a swoony romance in my mind. It’s the last frontier, people: nobody gets to tell me what I can or can’t do in my mind! I like to read about people or creatures that I can relate to, and I gotta say, fellow YA authors, we have that shit down! That’s what we do: we write about people we care about. And then our readers care about them, too.
I was talking to my youngest daughter (19) about my latest novel (YA romantic suspense) and told her that I needed to finish a scene because I had to get Jack and Ally back together. She just stared at me.
“What?” I asked.
“They broke up? How could you do that?” She was appalled.
“I don’t know. It just happened. Jack just said he needed some time. I had no control over it at all,” I replied meekly.
“That’s so messed up,” was all she said.
I care about these crazy kids I’ve created. So do my readers. They are people, with feelings, hopes, and dreams. Just like me. Just like you. Let’s forget about ridiculous labels: YA, genre, sub-genre, and just read whatever the hell we want, when we want. If you like YA, read YA. If you like adult literary fiction, read it. Just don’t tell me what I should be ashamed of reading. I won’t tell you that I find most adult literary fiction boring and pretentious.
As a high school teacher, I am thrilled when I see a kid reading anything. Far be it from me to tell him or her that they should be aiming higher, trying to “earn” their way into the adult section. Yikes.
P. S. Here’s part of my summer reading list. FYI.
-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (re-read)
-100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
-The King’s Deception by Steve Berry
-Fractured Worlds by Alan Van Meter
-The Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
-The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
-Paper Towns by John Green
See, I don’t just read YA. I read what I like. I hope you will, too.