a few days ago I was asked when I’m done with Young Adult. To be honest, I got a bit enraged about this question. My first thought was “why would I ever grow out of YA?” I mean, yes, I get older and I notice that I read more and more “adult” literature. Though that is mostly the contemporary stuff. I just can’t cope with high school stories from time to time. BUT that does not make me grow out of YA entirely. Like me, a lot of YA-readers are older than the protagonists in the stories. Just because they are younger, they are not necessarily more stupid or boring. In the contrary…
Since that evening, I’ve kept thinking about YA, what it means to me and why it is so important.
When I was younger, about 14, I was extremely insecure. Fiction helped me, in young adult stories I found people who were like me. As insecure as I was, as naive, as childish. But they survived, they developed. And so did I. Those characters from those books became my happy place. I guess that’s YA has stuck with me for so long: it had such an impact on my life in such a fragile phase of development. These books influenced me a lot.
There are so many beautiful characters and stories. Plus, it is not too exhausting to read, at least in case of language. I don’t always want a heavy writing style with 10 words for a thing you could have said in one word alone. Mostly, there are only a few complicated terms. That does not make a book “lesser”. A book is not defined by the language aimed towards its planned audience: teenagers.
Language is one thing. The other thing are topics and themes. More and more YA books deal with darker themes, they deal with illnesses, with racism, with trauma. But they also deal with first love, with friendship. The whole “genre” (I know it’s not a genre but I don’t know which word to use instead, sorry) is SO diverse. We get more and more POC, more LGBTA+. It’s amazing. And thanks to the language used, this feels more real and raw than I have experienced in adult books so far.
To conclude this, I fell in love with YA head over heels, and I don’t think there is outgrowing this anytime soon. But that’s just me and why I read YA. Because, as I said before, I was thinking about this a lot, I also asked people on tumblr, why they read YA/what makes it important to them. And I could find myself in so many answers, surely many many more people do so as well. I was actually touched by some replies, they made me so happy.
Since YA is targeted towards teenagers, one of the goals is to give young people a voice, to empower them and to show them that they are not alone and that they are heard. The message of those books often goes towards speaking your opinion, to fight against opression and what holds you down, no matter how difficult that might seem.
Well, these are only a few points why YA are important, not only to me, but to other people as well. So, will I grow out of YA soon? Probably not. I don’t know if I ever will. Maybe, with 80 I will still read about 16-years-olds fighting monsters and governements. Maybe I won’t. But what I will forever do is encouraging everyone to give YA a chance, to at least try and see, why it is not ridiculous or on a lower level than adult books.