I’ve noticed a theme.
When I frequent my local bookstore and am browsing through the “Young Adult” section, I get peculiar looks from some fellow shoppers. I’m mostly talking about the tweens wearing UGGs with shorts in 80 degree weather and the one older man who sits at the same table every Sunday. Now, I don’t look 27, but I also know I definitely don’t pass for a teen anymore. And as someone who seriously fears judgment and doesn’t like being acknowledged in public (thank you, social anxiety), this has led to me ordering my YA picks online. Yes, I am that weak. We’re at the point where I think the constant deliveries to our apartment have my roommate wondering if I can actually make rent every month.
Ok, people. I think it’s time. It’s time to stop judging adults for reading books labeled for the “young adult.”
Some of my favorite books I’ve read this year have been classified as YA. (See all of Renee Ahdieh’s books and Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology). Some of the biggest literary franchises are YA. (Hello Harry Potter and The Hunger Games). Some of the best classic novels are YA. (Shout out to To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies).
Because tweendom is the prime time of self-discovery, YA novels often cover important topics like consent, identity, social stigma, and bullying. It’s well-known that I enjoy a good book on difficult subject matter—but throw in a love triangle, a dystopian world, or a kickass hero/ine? I’m MORE than in.
Yes, there will be the cliche, “No Parent, I’m following my dream, not yours,” or “I’m offbeat and weird. No one understands me,” or “Wow, I discovered I have powers and I’m super important” type storylines. But in my opinion, we need these along our Stephen King thrillers and Jodi Picoult dramas. Not to mention, that these days YA books are becoming edgier. Authors are pushing the envelope. You may even see the “f-word” and a very glossed over version of sex.
So, please, let me peruse in peace. Some of us elders are dying to know whether Katharine rightfully becomes queen, if the Scarlet Guard prevails or when Kaz professes his undying love for Inej.