Hello, My Name is Rowena….

Posted June 13, 2011 by Rowena in Discussions | 5 Comments

….and I’m an adult who reads YA books.

Not too long ago, the YA community was up in arms (and rightly so) over a WSJ article about (overreacting) parents who are worried about the state of YA books. They’re too dark, they’re too suicidal and blah blah blah.

The thing that didn’t make a lick of sense to me was that the parent who was shopping for a book for her kid said that there were only books about violence and suicide and just all over dark shit.

I’m sorry but that is just not true. If she would have walked to the next aisle or looked to the left of the dark stuff, she would have found the lighter side of the YA genre. She would have found the Sarah Dessen books, the Meg Cabot books, the Kristina Springer books, all of the contemporary romantic books that are all light and fluffy and perfect for the kid who is not into the dark stuff.

While I understand that there are a lot of YA books with dark themes (suicide, death, violence, etc…), what she failed to see is that the dark side of YA is only a part of the YA genre as a whole. I know this because I’m an adult and mother of a pre-teen kid who reads YA. I read the Hunger Games (lots of graphic violence) and Thirteen Reasons Why (suicide). I know that they’re probably not appropriate reading material for my 12 year old daughter right now but I know that because I’ve read them, not because the covers are dark and scary and are shelved next to other dark and scary looking books.

I also know that in a couple of years I want my daughter to read those books because they’re good stories. The stories were about a whole lot more than suicide and violence. It was about life, the choices you make and the consequences that follow. Those stories made me take stock of the person that I am and the person I want to be. I want that for my daughter. I want her to be able to realize that her actions and sometimes, her non-actions affect those around her. In my opinion, the darker books of YA can help shape our kids into better people. I’m not saying that all of the dark books can but some of them can.

There are a lot of good YA books out there and when I say a lot, I really do mean a lot. The YA genre has grown considerably since I was a teenager and if the books that are out now came out when I was younger, I would have started reading a lot sooner. There is an incredible amount of talent out there writing YA fiction and that’s a good thing.

I enjoy reading YA for a number of reasons. These books take me back to my high school years. I’ve heard time and time again that your high school years will be the best four years of your life and these books take me back to those days. I had a good experience in high school. I wasn’t the most popular girl in school but I can look back on high school with a smile on my face because the memories I have from that time in my life were good ones. Not all good but totally worth it. Everything that happened to me in my past has shaped me into the person I am today and I’m okay with that.

When I open up a YA book, I can connect with the main character because I’ve been there. I know exactly what she’s feeling and I empathize with her. I can see the people from my high school in every single YA book that I read. I have pictures of the hot boys from my school in my head when I’m reading about the hot guys in the main character’s school. The characters become that much more real to me because I’ve been right where these characters have been and I know that in the end, things get better.

These characters might have to deal with vampires, zombies, unicorns and whatever mythical creatures are thrown their way but at the heart of everything, these characters are young and they’re dealing with the same issues that I went through when I was their age and sometimes, it’s good to go back to those days.

To the parents who are set trippin’ on the YA genre, you want to hate on the YA genre? Fine, hate on it but hate on it because you’ve read the books and know what you’re talking about. Don’t hate and judge the YA genre because the covers are too dark for your tastes.

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5 responses to “Hello, My Name is Rowena….

  1. Wow. I hadn’t seen the article until you mentioned it. The whole article was pretty ridiculous. I love your response!

  2. LOL I was surprised when I saw the “We Love YA” image that I use for feature on my blog on your post. Anyway, I agree with what you said. There are a lot of dark YA books out there but the main message in all of those is hope instead of despair. I think that’s what other people fail to see.

  3. Awesome post!

    You know, it really baffled me that the mom said she didn’t find anything that I wasn’t dark, because I don’t read dark. I’m a fluffist. I actively seek out fluff and I’m in serious need of some corny in my life.

    So… Dark? Yeah, it isn’t my stuff. I didn’t like 13 RW, and I barely finished HG and didn’t go back for more.

    But yet, I’m not hurting for stuff to read, there are even lighthearted paranormal books that aren’t dark at all!

    I do admit that I read ‘darker’ books once in a while. I read Speak and cried for days, I read Second Star to The Right (it’s a story about an anorexic girl back when the term anorexia was just beginning to pop up) and again, I cried for days – I was an actual teenager back then and I was surprised someone could voice out so many things going on in my head so accurately.

    I absolutely believe such books have a well deserved spot on the great pantheon of books that we call YA.

    More than anything, I believe that there is nothing more wonderful than finding a book you can identify with, that makes you think “I might not be alone after all,” even if said book is about a ‘dark’ subject matter. Maybe specially if that’s the case.

  4. Rowena

    @Dev: Isn’t it a great genre? I love reading YA books and wish parents would wise up and realize that there is more to the YA genre than just the darker stuff.

    @Brooke: Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words. =)

    @Chachic: Oh I’m sorry, I should have credited you for the picture. Thanks, I googled I LOVE YA and that picture came up. I knew it was yours though. Thanks for stopping by sweetie.

    @Alex: I know what you mean, the darker stuff isn’t for everyone but that’s not all there is out there for teens to read and those parents throwing hissy fits about this all should calm down.

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