Why I Read YA Fiction

I love YA

If you’ve been on social media the past week you may have seen lots of hashtags that include ANYTHING related to The Fault in Our Stars and John Green.  Seriously, if you don’t know what I’m talking about you’ve really gone off the grid.

Amidst all the talk and excitement around the popular contemporary YA novel and it’s movie adaptation, someone decided to drop their opinion on everyone.

According to this person at slate.com, who I’m not naming, but feel free to go to her article and see her elaborate on how she’s better than everyone else for reading adult fiction.  Not surprisingly, she was met with a town full of adult YA lovers brandishing pick forks ready to chase her off the internet.

Here’s a direct quote from the article:

“Fellow grown-ups, at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old, we are better than this.”

WHOA.  Okay, you risked it and yes.  Yes, you sound joyless and old.  My first question is, better than what?  Last time I checked, fiction reading is done for pleasure.  With that being said, who are you to decide what someone should be embarrassed about?

If one is picking up fiction for pleasure, my guess is that they are looking for a form of escapism.  A way to be transported to a different world, feel different emotions, see things from someone else’s eyes.  Just because something is written and placed in a certain genre does not mean it has to be exclusively read by the members of said genre.

The slate writer did touch on escapism and saying that there’s “room for it” and then jumped back to how teenagers may never graduate from YA fiction because all the adults are reading it.  Also, how excited she was to graduate to the adult stacks as a teenager.

Here’s where you’re wrong lady…

OF COURSE teenagers are going to be excited about reading an adult book because most teenagers are learning how to navigate their lives and are curious about a wide array of emotions and what it’s like to be an adult.  I would be surprised if a teenager never wanted to read an adult book.  Generally, readers are a curious bunch.  As we grow up and new layers of complexity arise in our lives, we naturally seek out more mature material to read and watch.  If you have a teenager that loves to read, I am going to take a wild stab in the dark: you have a smart kid who can and will pick up adult fiction at some point.

Now, I need to get back to the root of the article and the writer’s main point:  Adults should be embarrassed to read YA fiction.

I’m going to take this backwards from what I just said about teenagers.  Yes, as teenagers get older they seek out more mature material.  As an adult, I am wholly aware of adulthood.  No, I have not experienced all the benchmarks of adulthood such as marriage and babies but I have been slapped in the face by reality enough times to understand adulthood and feel the full weight of responsibility.  Here’s where my love of young adult fiction comes into play.

When I read YA or children’s literature I am reminded that to see the world through a child’s eyes is to remember that there is hope.  There is uncharted territory.  There are dreams to be made and a heart that is bursting with optimism.  As adults, we become jaded to new feelings and even push things away that may cause emotion.  When I am reading through a teenage narrator I am seeing things differently.  The slate writer would say that an adult should snicker at the trappings of a YA novel.  But the truth is that we must never forget what it feels like to be a kid and it feels good to remember things when they were so innocent and fresh and new.

Eventually we must all grow up, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose all hope and stop believing in dreams. I am not embarrassed to read fiction written for children and neither should you.

It doesn’t matter what you are reading.  It could be romance, horror, erotic fiction or the latest literary masterpiece.  Read what you want with pride AT EVERY AGE.

If anyone else has anything negative to say about adults reading children books I only have one thing to say:

Harry Potter.

 

Bingeing on ‘The Here and Now’ by Ann Brashares

 

Pub Date: April 8th, 2014

Description:

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.

 

First off:  How legit is this cover?  Seriously, everything is working really well for me on this one.  The holographic type colors, the half sad face..I’m really digging it.  I’m also thinking it will catch a lot of eyes on the bookshelves.  Well done.

Secondly, I took a leap of face on this one because Ann Brashares is the author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  I have a really hard time with science fiction.  My brain has a hard time processing time travel.  It’s pretty much just waiting patiently for the next romantical scene.  My brain enjoys teenage romance.  I know..creeper status.

I have very mixed feelings about this story.  I started off being really into it and really excited for where it was going.  The unrequited love was really working for me.  Prenna and Ethan had some GREAT tension going on.  This may be my favorite paragraph/line from the whole book:

I don’t lie to Ethan, but I don’t tell him the truth either.  I can’y.  To share anything with him, even if I could, would put him in an impossible place.  Already he is the drip, drip of water that carves a canyon right through the middle of me.

There’s no doubt that Ann is an extremely talented writer.  I really felt the emotion in this story.  The tragedy and the sadness.  But the thing that really threw me is the fact that I just didn’t understand a lot of what was going on.  There would be this terrific line and then in the next paragraph I would be lost because we were talking about time travel again.

If there was a sequel, I would give it a try.  Solely based on the fact that I really liked the relationship between Prenna and Ethan.  But if you aren’t a fan of time travel/science fiction I don’t know if this is the story for you.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars!

 

 

 

Bingeing on ‘Eleanor & Park’ by Rainbow Rowell

Before I completely gush about this FANTASTICALLY AMAZING contemporary young adult novel, here’s a blurb so you have an idea of what it’s about.

 

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

Okay, so that’s a really short blurb but you get the picture.

This is one of those books that is hard to describe in a review because it just gives you that feeling.  That hard to pinpoint feeling that only very special novels can give you.  Like, I wanna weave a BFF bracelet for me and this novel to wear because I felt like it just really spoke to me.  But alas, books don’t have wrists.  Also they aren’t people.

‘Eleanor & Park’ touches on everything.  First love, race, social class, bullying and it’s FUNNY.  These are heavy issues and Rowell’s wit really balanced that out.  Now that I’ve said that I need to say something about the romance.  THE ROMANCE, PEOPLE.  Read this…

Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.

and this….

“Nothing, really. I just want to be alone with you for a minute.”

He pulled her to the back of the driveway, where they were almost completely hidden by a line of trees and the RV and the garage.

“Seriously?” she said. “That was so lame.”

“I know,” he said, turning to her. “Next time, I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, follow me down this dark alley, I want to kiss you.'”

This love story is so pure and so innocent.  High school kids will eat this up.  Adults will eat this up.  Seriously, it’s definitely at crossover status.

Another quick note I want to make is about the fact that it’s set it the 80’s.  Music is definitely a big factor in this book and it almost feels like another character.

There’s a reason this is at the top of all the best books of 2013 lists.

5 out of 5 stars

Bingeing on:’OCD Love Story’ by Corey Ann Haydu

13326677

Just finished this fantastic young adult novel. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

When Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he’s her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again.

But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can’t stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic… and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea knows a lot about him. She spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she’s obsessed.

Bea tells herself she’s got it all under control. But this isn’t a choice, it’s a compulsion. The truth is, she’s breaking down…and she might end up breaking her own heart.

Okay, so first things first.  I love Corey Ann Haydu’s writing style.  She’s fun and quirky. Which is definitely needed because this book is a smidge heavy.  By young adult standards.  Think 15+.  Her attention to detail is insane- if you don’t know what it feels like to be really anxious, you will get a taste of it in here.

It’s also her debut novel, so congrats!

ANYWHO.  Here’s the short of it.  This is isn’t a standard young adult romance.  There are real issues going on in this novel. Our main character, Bea has OCD along with the other kids in her support group.  Her love interest has OCD too.  It’s not pretty.  Haydu does a fantastic job of capturing anxiety on paper.  Bea is just that perfect amount of quirkiness that I like.  She’s got some SERIOUS issues but her character was a good balance of strong/flawed so I couldn’t get TOO mad at her when she was doing her compulsions.

If books with characters with mental illnesses aren’t your thing, I say skip it.  But really, just give it a try.  I really think more books need to be like this, especially in the young adult sector.

P.S- I really enjoy the cover.

Totally bingeworthy!

3.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Bingeing on ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn

Meet my latest obsession.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Yes, I am acutely aware of the fact that this book was THE BOOK, last year.  I am notoriously late on picking up popular picks of the year.  I showed up quite unfashionably late to the Harry Potter party as well as the Hunger Games series and the Fifty Shades series.  Every once in a while I come across something as it is just coming out and I get to tell all my friends to read it before social media and Target shelves are shoving it down our throats.

I also get a little turned off by the everybody is reading it routine.  But, in all honesty, readers get it.  We know what’s good.  Even if it is complete smut and poorly written (insert guilty pleasure) it’s fun to be in a giant book club with millions of Americans.  They can’t be wrong right?

Plus, this book has been staring at me from the popular shelves at Target, Barnes & Meijer, ETC for quite some time now.  I’m always like “Stop staring at me vague cover art!”  Just look at it..it’s quite creepy even when you don’t know what the book is about.

If you don’t know what it’s about you should probably google it, but I’ll give you the short blurb.

Wife goes missing on couples’ five year anniversary.  Pages and pages of WTF moments follow.

That’s really all you need to know.  If you enjoy thrillers, please pick it up.  IF you don’t enjoy thrillers you should still pick it up.  I’ll warn you though, it’s UNPUTDOWNABLE.  (I really hate that word invented by book reviewers but it really works in this circumstance.)  I’m really drinking from the hose on this one.  I’m over halfway done and started it a couple days ago because there are so many HOLY SHIT moments that I can’t even stand to put it down.  So there’s your second warning, it’s best to start it on the weekend because you will devour it.

FUN FACT:  I just checked into the magical world of google to see if this book was going to get the movie treatment and IT IS!  AND Ben Affleck is in it.  AND I’m squealing!  And I’m leaving the internet before it somehow spoils the ending of the book.  I’m always afraid that the internet is going to ruin a book for me somehow after a very unfortunate google search while reading the Hunger Games series.  Note to self: stay away from the internet when reading hugely popular books, the internet does not know what page you are on!  Damn you google.

I’m actually dying to talk about the huge turn of events halfway through the book but I would feel terrible if I spoiled it for someone else.  I’m debating walking down the street and asking random people if they are currently reading Gone Girl and are in between pages 147 and 200 and if they would like to have a discussion/freak-out fest about the current developments in the story line.

When I finish I’ll be back with as short a review as possible.  Because no one really cares about the review.