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In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

Unapologetically YA

On 15, Jan 2014 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

Just before the holidays I read a post on the YALSA blog about dreading book recommendations. The author  talked about how she reads mostly YA but around the holidays most people want suggestions for book gifts for their friends or acquaintances. I don’t have very many friends that ask me for reading recommendations, but the post still got me thinking.

Whenever people ask what I’ve been reading (or when I brag about how many books I’ve read lately — 7 in 2014 so far!) or ask for suggestions, I tend to apologize and say I don’t read adult fiction, just YA. I know most people I hang out with aren’t really interested in reading YA or MG, so I rarely have ideas for them that aren’t popular adult fiction I have heard of or read about in the New York Review of Books. But, you know what? I like YA and I like MG.

Let me say it again. I like Young Adult books and I like Middle Grade books.

I touched on this idea in my post about New Adult literature. Actually, upon further reflection and honesty, I might have lied a bit in that post. I read a lot of YA and MG and I love almost all of it. Not all of it, but almost all of it. And I can’t imagine reading anything else, fiction-wise. I am just not drawn to adult fiction, for the reasons I discussed in my New Adult post. It’s about people in unhappy marriages, with miserable families, cheating on their spouses, etc. (I know this is a gross generalization, and there actually a few authors who write for adults that I love.) There is also a lot of post-modern fiction out there that’s just too pretentious. If I want something intellectual and hard to follow I read a lot of nonfiction. I actually really, really love adult nonfiction. But adult fiction is Just. Not. My. Thing. NA was supposed to fill a gap, or at least I think it should, but it has yet to do that. It’s turned into a romance genre. Romance is great, but by and large it isn’t what I want to read.

The problem for me has been admitting that I love YA and MG and that problem largely stems from two places. One, that I think people think of me as an adult even if I don’t self-identify as an adult. And two, that YA is written off as badly written and silly. Of course people who say that must not read. Because a lot of YA is written really, really well (this month I’ve been reading Holly Black and holy shit can she write!) and a lot of adult fiction is written so poorly it’s not even funny (50 Shades of Grey, anyone?). Both of these excuses for not proclaiming my love of YA and MG are so lame. To that end, my true New Year’s Resolution is to STOP apologizing for reading and loving YA and MG.

I read YA and MG and I am not sorry that I can’t give you a book recommendation. I’m not sorry that I love it. I am unapologetically a YA and MG fan! Maybe you should try it.

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