Last week, New York magazine came out with a feature article, complete with infographics and interviews with prominent YA authors, about the rise of adults reading YA literature. Later in the week, Jezebel picked up a similar story that Vulture released, putting their own spin on it.
In the beautifully written Vulture article , author Jen Doll writes about how YA novels allow the reader to go back to first experiences, whether it’s about love or general coming-of-age.
She writes, “There’s a kind of forward momentum, too, enabled by reading about characters for whom lives are still blank slates ready to be filled, compared to our own. We can measure ourselves against their choices and see how we succeeded; we can feel wiser than they are, knowing that what we did then turned out okay; we can also see for ourselves where there might still be room to improve. As dire as the situations may be—the worlds of these characters contain creatures bent on destroying them, untrustworthy adults, grave injustices, unrequited or deeply problematic love, abuse, bullying, suicide, murder, paralyzing self-doubt—there is the sense that things have the potential to get better.”
The writer at Jezebel, Dodai Stewart agrees. Before turning a year older and moving on into the dorm life, I thought we were all worldly and in the words of a friend, we were “deep*”. However, as I move on from high school, I realize how naïve we were. How simple we thought the world worked, despite all our knowledge. We’ve moved from a small pond to a larger pond and we realize how little we know.
In a way, I still feel the naiveté and simplicity of my thoughts but to a certain degree, I’ve distanced myself from the characters of YA novels. I am no longer one of them, in the same situations, at the same age. Instead of being them, I am watching from the outside, slowly as I get older and further from high school.
Therein lies the appeal, the nostalgia that we feel for high school, despite the hatred that I sometimes felt for high school when I was in it and the annoyance I felt towards it at the end. We desire to go back to the simplicity, the heightened emotions and feelings, and ultimately the mind state that a single moment can define who we are. I’ve grown out of my awkwardness mostly and to a certain extent, I miss it **.
In a way, I miss how less jaded I was and sometimes, I wish to go back to those times. These are the reasons why I’ll keep on reading YA literature as well as other genres.
*Other times, we were just wannabe hipsters.
** Knock on wood. I don’t miss it enough to want it back, though.
Why do you read YA literature (if at all)? If you don't, why not?