So this is my first blog posting. Ever. Clearly, I’m just slightly behind the times, but it’s never too late to start.
For today’s blog, I wanted to give a shout out to the genre that brought me to this blessed space in the first place: Young Adult, or YA as it’s most commonly referred to. I was in my local Barnes and Noble with my 11 year old the other day, and as she was methodically looking over every YA book on the shelf, trying to figure out what her next literary conquest was going to be, it struck me how times have changed. Here I was, trailing right behind her, picking up the same books she was looking over, reading the descriptions on the back, deciding if this was going to be the next universe I was going to dive into myself … and it hit me. I would have NEVER had this experience with my own mother when I was this age. Back then, YA consisted of new volumes of Sweet Valley High and other 100 page paperbacks about failed proms and surviving nerd-dom. These novels were sweet, short, and clearly only meant for the 12-16 year old girl who might pick it up and read it. While my mother read biographies about JFK, I was lost in the latest struggle between twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and the dilemmas that being identical twins struggling to find their own identities brings. Not exactly War And Peace, but engaging all the same.
But today, we have epic sagas like The Hunger Games, where boys and girls alike can get lost in Katniss’ fight to literally save the world. We have intense stories of devastating illnesses and how they give a new face to true love, like in The Fault In Our Stars. And of course, the most YA of all YA stories, we have the Twilight universe, where both mother and daughter can get lost in the bliss of Team Edward and Team Jacob.
And what’s craziest, is that this is all mainstream literature. Not something that’s only found in Scholastic book fairs at local junior high schools, or specifically on the shelf of the young adult section at your local library (which were the only places I could go to if I ever wanted to find a new YA book to read.) These books are in airport novelty shops, the tiny section of books at your local grocery store, and taking over entire sections at every person’s Barnes and Noble. Young Adult is simply everywhere, and every kind of person of every kind of age is reading them. YA has clearly evolved into something much more, and changed the face of literature and the definitions of who reads it.
I think that’s f’ing fantastic.
YA isn’t niche, and it isn’t light. It tackles all the big, ugly, devastating, delightful, uplifting and inspiring topics that traditional fiction broaches, and it does so beautifully.
I am so proud to play a small part in this genre, and so for my first official written blog entry, I tip my hat to you, YA… you simply kick ass.