Wednesday, December 9, 2015
YA, Why Not?
Despite being a so-called “adult,” a huge portion of what I read (and most of my favourite books) fall under the category of “young adult” fiction. YA books tend to get a bad rap – it’s all dystopia like the Hunger Games, everything is about death, there’s always a weepy teen romance – but a lot of these complaints are unfounded. There are a lot of really great YA books out there, and many of them are suitable for adults. In fact, in a study completed by Bowker Market Research in 2012, 55% of the people reading YA fiction are actually over the age of 18. This means that not only are loads of adults reading YA fiction, they’re publicly admitting to it as well.
So, what’s the big deal about YA fiction? Why does it appeal to so many people, regardless of age? It could be that they allow for escapism (into inventive and comprehensively built words like Narnia or Hogwarts), it could be that they allow for a heavy dose of nostalgia (who doesn’t love reliving their younger years), or it could simply be that most YA authors are darn good writers, and their work deserves to be universally appreciated by all.
If you haven’t yet delved into the world of young adult fiction, but are looking for a good jumping off point, here are a few titles I suggest you check out (I promise there are no sparkly vampires):
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
The 2015 Printz Award winning I’ll Give You the Sun tells the story of Noah and his twin sister Jude. When the twins are 13, they are inseparable but very different. Both immensely artistic, Noah is quiet, shy, and different while Jude is daring, popular, and attention seeking. Three years later, their mother has been killed in a car accident, the twins are barely speaking, Noah has given up art for sports and parties, and Jude has completely withdrawn into herself. This emotionally intense and character-driven novel paints a realistic picture of the devastation that loss can cause, and how difficult it can be to come back from that. Nelson’s writing is almost lyrical at times, particularly when she describes the world through Noah’s eyes. The story is rife with artistic metaphor, as well as real human feeling.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
“It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.” Publisher
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Craig Gilner has recently found himself midway through his first year of a prestigious and exclusive Manhattan highschool, succumbing to the pressure, battling depression, and deciding to kill himself. A call to a suicide hotline ends with his admittance to an adult psychiatric ward (the teens’ unit is under renovation), where he is surrounded by a cast of colourful characters. The rest of this candid and (despite the subject matter) quite humorous novel tells the story of Craig’s recovery, and how in finding himself he manages to help everyone around him as well.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
“A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth.” Publisher