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I shocked myself when I discovered how much I enjoy Young Adult books. To be honest, I don’t remember when I read my very first YA book, but I’m sure I had judged the genre for not living up to my standards or for lacking quality. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what held me back from trying out this genre but I’m so glad I quickly dusted off those judgments!
I’ll be the first to admit – fantasy books about dragons and mythical creatures fighting each other to save a princess in a random kingdom are not books I care for. Unfairly, I just assumed I’d feel the same about young adult or that the vibe would be similar. I was hesitant to read any because let’s be honest, our time is precious and I make it a goal to only read books that seriously interest me, as there are so many amazing things we can be focusing our time on!
I’ll just come out and say it – I love Young Adult books! Yes, you have to altar your mindset sightly and remind yourself that you are reading a book geared towards younger readers and teenagers. While not having any friends to walk down the hallways with at school may not seem like a big deal to us as adults, it can make or break a young adult’s life. You have to transport yourself back in time and remember that most time periods that YA books take place during are critical to our adolescent experience. And we can all probably agree that those early teenage years just suck.
I think adults can learn so much from YA books and one of the main reasons I love reading the genre is the real-life issues that they usually center. Think of Speak and the issues of rape (I actually read this in middle school and loved it, then read it again as an adult and saw such a different side of this!), The Hate U Give and issues of race inequality, suicide in All The Bright Places or serious illness in The Fault In Our Stars. All of these books, which are some of my favorite YA books, spoke to me on such a deep level. I find myself the most emotional during YA books because the issues touch close to our hearts in one way or another.
Middle school and high school isn’t what it used to be. Of course, bullying and feeling misunderstood and left out have always been present, but with pop culture rising to the extremity that is now, rape, violence, mental illness, racial inequality and more are at an all-time high. The world is scary for a young person, who may fear going to school with all of the school shootings happening. As our culture and world changes, the way we consume literature must also change.
While most YA books cover sensitive topics that are extremely difficult to read, it’s imperative that we remember, as adults, life is just as tough for younger people as it is for us. I believe YA books help bridge the generational gap and help us to better understand those in different stages of life.