Why I Read YA

I know I haven’t posted in a while (I’ve had exams, sorry!) and this post isn’t even a review, which kind of goes against the title of my blog in the first place. However, in honour of the Scholastic twitter hashtag #IReadYA I decided to write about why I read YA and why it matters.

I discovered YA when I was 12 years old and I was in my awkward literary phase. I felt that I had grown out of the Jacqueline Wilson stories of my childhood and I was struggling to find my feet in the literary world. Then I discovered John Green novels in a small corner of my local bookstore and my YA literature flame was lit.

Through YA I discovered characters who felt more real to me than anyone I had ever met. They introduced me to worlds, that while similar to mine, were completely different. These novels allowed me to empathise with the loner in the corner (Perks of Being a Wallflower), to understand the bully’s point of view (Tease), to understand why people turned to drugs (Go Ask Alice) and all of these stories were so complex and full of emotion that at point I asked myself why adults refused to read these.

They introduced me to the idea of feminism (Only Ever Yours), helped me understand complex concepts like euthanasia (The Universe Versus Alex Woods), they fuelled my wanderlust (Paper Towns), they challenged the stereotypes of mental health (It’s Kind of a Funny Story) ,they challenged my views on racism (Noughts and Crosses), they helped me understand sexuality (Will Grayson, Will Grayson) but most of all they helped me become a better person.

I know that at 15 years of age, YA is still aimed at me, but I fail to understand why some renowned literary critics still spurn  YA, claiming it is ‘literature for idiots’ (in plain terms). That couldn’t be further from the truth if it tried. The adults I know that read YA have tended to be more understanding towards teenagers in general, and quite frankly the idea that YA is seen as ‘stupid’ just furthers the notion that us teenagers are unintelligent and that we don’t matter. But we do. Our stories are of just as much value as any adult’s.

That is why I read YA.

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