Following some heated wars in the early part of the 2010s, I think we as a society have largely moved on from dragging adults who read YA. At least, I don't feel like there is as much stigma attached as there was 10 years ago. So maybe I don't need to write a post like this.
But I'm going to, because in the first quarter of 2020 I read a whopping one YA novel, and for a while I was afraid I'd broken my ability to love them. I'm still only at 5 for the year. So I need to remind myself that as enjoyable as reading from the regular fiction section has been and will continue to be, there will (hopefully) always be some comfort to be found in YA, particularly the contemporary genre.
Side note: IDK what the sci fi/fantasy side of YA is doing and mostly IDC, so keep that in mind as you read my reasons. Also, I wish like anything that I had written about why I liked YA when I was in high school (while so many of my peers leap-frogged over it to get to adult books). There would definitely have been some different reasons, and I wish I could remember what they were.
But as of today, I love YA for the following reasons:
1) The school setting. I just really love reading about the routine of classes, homework, school events, etc. It's extra-comforting now that I'm not in it.
2) Sex is not a given. Distressingly, it is also not a given that they WON'T have sex at some point, but there is a still a pretty high chance that you will get a swoon-worthy romance where kissing on a sofa or maybe falling asleep together fully clothed is the zenith. You leave YA, you gotta whole-hog it into historical fiction or Christian romance for that sort of safety.
(That said, even when there is sex, you can at least be assured it's never going to use explicit, straight-up-erotica terms, even at its most uncomfortable.)
3) Awesome teachers. I love me a good Caring Teacher. I take it in student/teacher romance form most often because that's what's easiest to find, but I really love any book that has an example of an adult who is so, so invested in their job and/or in one particular student's success and is supportive and encouraging. If you know any, you should rec them to me in the comments. one that comes to mind in an appropriate context is Circle the Soul Softly, which has a really cool drama teacher.
4) Summer freedom. For most adults, summer is just another season in the year. For teenagers, The Summer is a very specific period in your life between epochs where anything can happen, and often does.
5) Summer jobs. I didn't have one in high school, but I love vicariously living the experience of cool temporary/entry-level jobs. Working in a unique shop, a family-owned restaurant, a quirky hotel, or being some kind of personal assistant over the summer...all the fun stuff adults usually can't wear proudly as their full-time career unles they are owners/managers, who do not necessarily do the same tasks.
6) First kisses. I'm still a sucker for those fluttery feelings from a girl who's never been kissed falling in love for the first time.
7) Proto-Adulting. I like the plots where a teenager becomes head of household due to an absent or deadbeat parent. There are not very many books like this about adults just starting out. The ones that exist seem to be mostly New Adult, a.k.a. porn-inclusive. It's also different being a teen in this situation, because you simultaneously have a bit of a safety net in still being considered a dependent, but unless you're 18 w/ no little siblings, you also have to dodge rules and regulations designed to stop you from being independent, even if you want to be.
8) Family dynamics. Kids in adult books are rarely if ever interesting in their own right, but I really like the way YA teens describe/interact with their parents, especially if I decide to picture them as characters/actors from a TV show I like. (Is it because I am officially old enough to BE those parents, at least if I'd been a teen mom, despite my continuing ability to access my teenage brain and related impulses? UNDETERMINED) I also like seeing all the different possible sibling combinations, teens raised by non-parent guardians, etc. It's different when you all share a house vs. how you relate to them as an adult.
9) The friendships. There's just something different about the way you hang out with friends as a teenager versus an adult. More fun and adventure, more creativity, and way more (fully clothed) sleepovers. I like the time period in life where it's normal to sleep in the same room while not actually sharing a bed.
10) It's the road(s) not taken. I don't regret much about my high school experience, but there are still ten thousand different things I COULD have done in that special 4-5 year time span, and I simply love trying on those different lives.
Aaaand there we have it. Not totally happy with how wordy I am, but I can't seem to condense it. Why do YOU love YA, if you do?
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