Rereading Books for Teenagers as Adults

As an adult, I’ve enjoyed countless YA stories. I don’t believe age should define the literature we choose to read; stories for all ages have the ability to amaze people of all ages. However, not all stories remain the same with time.

As a teenager, I read and loved a Portuguese book called A Lua De Joana (Joana’s Moon, with no translation to English). It deals with drugs during adolescence, and how they affect those who consume them, as well as everyone else around. It’s a dramatic tale, written in the form of a personal diary, which describes Joana’s daily struggles and doubts, beginning at the point where she lost her best friend to an overdose.

As a fifteen-year-old, I loved the book; it was a story I would immediately recommend to others, and the mention of the title would have many people like me nodding heads, because the book is so famous in Portugal, that many school kids have read it. The feeling and general opinion of the story seems to be always the same: it is a wonderful book.

Then, I made a mistake: I reread it as an adult.

I was 28 when I actually bought a copy of the book – I had borrowed it from my school library before – because I was curious to read the story from the point of view of adult me.

The main character, who had seemed wise and right in most aspects the first time around, now resembled a rude teenager, who was convinced she knew everything when, in fact, she knew very little. Suddenly, I could not sympathise with Joana anymore. She was spoiled, prejudiced, and not as wise as I had deemed her to be when I was a teenager myself. I was heartbroken. I had ruined a book I loved as a teenager (and had carried on loving for many years after) by rereading it as an adult.

I know that I’ve changed over the years. If we are lucky, we all do. It’s part of becoming an adult, of life itself: heartbreak, disappointment, but also the kindness of others, the search for our role in the world, shape us for better or worse. I wasn’t expecting, however, for my own vision of the story to change so drastically. I’ve reread books before, and while I’ve discovered new things about the stories that I had missed the first time around, it was only with this YA book that I actually saw such a turn in relation to a story.

With this in mind, I’ve decided that YA books I have read and enjoyed in my adolescence should probably stay put, never to be read again. That way, I can love them and remember them with fondness forever.

How about you? Have you ever felt disappointed when rereading a story many years later? Let us know in the comments!

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