YA FICTION: Are You Adult Enough to Read It?

Congratulations to  Debbie Causevic, winner of the drawing for a signed copy of Jaye Robin Brown’s ARC, No Place to Fall.  Thanks to all who participated in this drawing.  


My ARC (CRAZY) has been out less than a month, and I’m already bracing myself for the reviews.  In the meantime, I’ve begun to “take the show on the road” and while they may not be official reviews, there are some comments beginning to dribble in.  For example, my son’s enthusiastic responses (I’m sorry, family members do count, you know!) convinced me he genuinely enjoyed reading it (surprised both of us, I think!) and for purposes of this discussion, he is well past his teen years.

Speaking of purposes, it is not mine to get all braggy about the positive feedback I’m getting, although I will share a couple of lovely comments that have touched my heart later.  What has me riled today is an article from the Slate Book Review by Ruth Graham, entitled “Against YA” obviously inspired by the release of the movie version of John Green’s YA book, The Fault in Our Stars.

Graham concedes that she’s a bit bashful about expressing her self-described “fuddy-duddy” opinion that “adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children.”  She’s, uh, bashful because recent market research shows that 55% of YA books are bought by people over 18, and that the cultural definition of “young adult” now seems to hover just under 30.

Graham’s reasoning leads her to the conclusion that “transparently trashy stuff like Divergent and Twilight” can be discounted because they don’t qualify as serious literature.  Whether you agree with that is a discussion for another day.  But to follow Graham’s line of thinking, books like The Fault in Our Stars, i.e., realistic fiction that stands on the strength of both story line and quality of writing, pose the threat of replacing real literary fiction in adult readers.  And, says Graham,  “that’s a shame.”

Just exactly why we erudite adults shouldn’t allow ourselves to weep over, or unabashedly enjoy, good YA literary fiction wasn’t clear.  Graham explained that in her own YA days (defined by her as early 1990’s) books like The Westing Game and Tuck Everlasting provided “some of the most intense reading experiences of my life.”  But she doesn’t care to go back.  And certainly not forward to the likes of Eleanor and Park, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, to name just a few, I’m sure.

I’ll leave it there.  Everyone is entitled to his or her own choice in reading.  But to be perfectly honest, I am shamelessly un-embarrassed to tell you that I would die to be on Graham’s list!  And just to wrap up where I started with this, to date, the only people who have read and commented on my forthcoming YA book are adults and I’m not going to apologize for passing along a couple of their unsolicited comments:

“But most of all the gorgeous and powerful language and verse structure moved me…..when I could tear myself away long enough to make notes I mostly said, ‘wow’.”  (Louise Galveston, author of By the Grace of Todd, Penguin/Razorbill, Feb. 2014)

“It is beautifully written and heart-gutting.  The characters are all so real and the descriptions so rich and tangible.  I know this book will be a hit with readers of all ages.”  (Skila Brown, author of Caminar , Candlewick Press, March, 2014.)

Really, I did not intend to toot my own horn, but just thought it interesting, and yes, humbly gratifying, that at least three adults out there (I know this will never stand up in a statistics class!) seemed to enjoy reading my YA book.  Readers of all ages, I hope you’ve reached the conclusion that good writing is  good writing, no matter the age group for which it is intended.  I hope you will continue to choose books based on what your heart tells you, rather than that nebulous world of “shoulds” where no one usually wins, and everyone generally loses.

If you would like to pursue this discussion further (why read YA), check out Gwenda Bond’s recent blog.  In the meantime, I would love to get some feedback on the whole topic from readers and writers!


REMINDER:  Click here and scroll down to find the Goodreads giveaway button for two copies of CRAZY which runs from midnight June 10 to midnight June 17!













YA FICTION: Are You Adult Enough to Read It? — 2 Comments

  1. How much do I agree with you? Let me count the ways…! Of course good literature is good literature. How many parents still swoon over “WHere the Wild Things Are”;
    “Good Night Moon”; and “Make Way for Ducklings”? These are classics PICTURE BOOKS for a reason. They touch a reader’s emotions and that makes them timeless. Having just finished your book yesterday, there is no doubt in my mind that it will touch hearts of readers of all ages. Great blog post. You tell, em, Linda!

    • Thanks for chiming in, Carol. I know the books you mention are classics from the children’s end of the continuum, and I also know that you and many of our peers are writing classic YA’s that deserve to be read by a wide audience, too. Hooray for YA!

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