Brought to you by OBS reviewer Valerie

Say Yay To YA

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsOnce upon a time, or rather, once upon the 1990s, the young adult genre was being born. Fast forward to 2014, and now the new adult genre is being born. However, instead of embarrassment due to the new adult genre, the latest buzz is about the young adult genre. From the hype for The Fault in Our Stars to the movie releases of YA hits like Divergent, I think it’s safe to say that the YA genre is causing quite a stir among both teens and adults.

And some adults are starting to feel embarrassed for reading young adult fiction. There has been quite a buzz about this development, especially on social media networks on Twitter. Movies are being made, and I guess opinions are as well.

One word, WHAT?  While I completely understand the reasons for embarrassment, I firmly believe that the young adult genre is something to be celebrated and embraced. Not only has the YA literature community broached controversial topics and shed light towards many of today’s issues, but it’s also changed the way that readers view the world. And I don’t know about you, but I know for a fact that books change lives.

Book change lives. Especially young adult books that target issues such as diversity, sexuality, and class. Remember a few years back when Lauren Myracle’s Shine was “mistakenly” nominated for a National Book Award? Well, that event brought many readers towards that novel, and it also helped many gay teens. And Laurie Halse Anderson’s books? Speak and Wintergirls especially helped many readers to speak up and stand up for themselves. Why should adults, or anyone, actually, be embarrassed to read novels that save lives? Why should anyone be embarrassed to read novels by authors who want change, who have fought for their words to be read, shared, and talked about?

Additionally, young adult fiction does not mean bad fiction. Sure, some writers aren’t the best writers, but that’s with any genre. That’s to be expected. However, many of these young adult authors are incredibly skilled and talented, with colleges from Northwestern to Harvard to Yale, just to name drop a few. From poetry to prose to a hybrid of both, not only are the authors skilled, but they’re willing to experiment. Young adult fiction is new, fresh, and incredibly well-written. And 1984? Farenheit 451? To Kill a Mockingbird? Technically speaking, these classics can all be classified as young adult novels. These aren’t considered embarrassments?

Remember, today’s adults were yesterday’s teens. For some reason, the global mindset when it comes to teens has always been to condemn whatever they like. And right now, that’s condemning young adult fiction. But is condemning today’s young adult fiction as effective as trying to understand it? In my opinion, the answer to that question is a resounding NO, but every single person is entitled to their own opinion. This is mine, and I believe that YA is the way.