It’s no secret that here on 7th Page, we love YA. We think you do too. If you’re actively involved in the YA community like we are, you may remember a few months ago, a certain online newspaper published an article bashing the YA genre, even going so far as to imply that if you’re not a teen girl, you should be embarrassed to read “books written for children.” But don’t worry; I’m neither a teen, nor a girl, and I’m here to let you know that there’s nothing to be ashamed of in loving Young Adult books.
First off, let’s get one thing clear; the age range written on the cover of a book does not dictate the age the reader should be. It dictates where the book should sit on the shelf in a bookstore. Defining a book as “Young Adult”, or “New Adult”, or “Adult”… it’s a marketing strategy. The article which was written (which I’ll not link to, nor mention the name of the author) doesn’t deserve to be read and appreciated, because it’s nothing more than a 2-page bash at the genre as a whole, full of snobbish, unnecessary comments about why Adult Fiction is oh-so-much-better-and-doesn’t-involve-cheesy-cheap-teen-romance. Most sickening of all, to me, is the fact that some people believe that it’s acceptable to comment that some popular YA books are “trashy” and don’t deserve to be recognised as “serious literature”. If anything, this is nothing more than an attack at the authors of such books, and as a writer of YA, I feel personally belittled by the insinuation that I’m writing trash.
But I’ll move away from the negativity. That writer can keep her opinions on the genre. I’m here, continuing to read the genre, because I know for a fact that YA offers so much more than cheap teen romance. Some of the most popular YA books in the last few years teach us lessons that we’d never be taught from Adult Detective Novels, or Adult Thriller Novels. The Fault in Our Stars teaches us to consider each other complexly, and to understand that with all of our differences, we’re all the same underneath; we’re all people and deserve to be treated as such. Divergent teaches us that it’s okay to be afraid, and bravery is more than facing your fears head on. The 5th Wave teaches us the importance of family and protecting those who mean most to us. And so many more, with so many more lessons. The list is almost endless. YA books teach young teens to overcome their fears and their insecurities, and help them understand that it’s okay not to fit in if you dream of standing out. And YA also teaches adults about the lives of teenagers; that there are real problems that go unnoticed (how many YA books do you read where adults/parents/teachers don’t see the problems the children face with bullying etc?). And most importantly, adults are taught to treat teens with the respect that they deserve.
To back me up, the YA genre has been defended by so many people, in so many ways. First we had the “I Read YA” campaign by the publisher Scholastic. And then, in response to the negativity surrounding the genre those months ago, Lauren DeStefano (author of the Chemical Garden Series) took to twitter to begin a new hashtag, #PromoteaYAInstead, which started off by merely promoting and recommending people’s favourite YA books, but which quickly grew into a massive, deep, thought-provoking admiration of the YA genre. And that, to me, is what YA is all about. It’s not about bashing other people’s opinions, it’s about loving what we have. I can’t stress enough how much I recommend going to that hashtag on twitter and reading some of the positive, heart-warming things said within it. And hey, you’ll get some fantastic new book recommendations out of it.
Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but there’s no need to try and pull anyone down for enjoying a book that you didn’t. YA is awesome, and I’ll never be ashamed to love reading it. You shouldn’t be either, whether you’re a 14 year old girl, or a 35 year old man. Don’t ever let people force you to believe that a genre label should detract you from reading what you love to read.