Not-So-Young Adults: An Argument for YA at Any Age

Guest Article by: 
Laura Graveline

It’s a question that has followed me ever since I started working in bookstores: Why don’t more adults read Young Adult Novels? Anyone who’s come in to the store and talked to me knows I love YA books. They defy genre. They can be sci-fi, literary, fantastical. And I know there are stories that many of our customers would absolutely adore. Are you interested in other cultures and race relations? I can name about five books right now that delve into these topics. What about prose that you have to re-read because it's just that beautiful? I can recommend authors who are masters of word craft, whom I can guarantee you will love.

So I’m brought back to my question of why adults just don’t seem to pick up YA novels. The few who do always come into the store raving about the last book they read. No one seems to notice or mind when I slip YA books into a list of recommendations (yes, some YA titles are even hiding in the fiction section, though you might not have noticed). All this is to say that I know YA is something adults can and do enjoy. What stops us from buying these books?

There’s a certain stigma that permeates the genre, and it started with Twilight. As many of you will remember, the series was a world-wide phenomenon. This was one of the first books written in the emerging Young Adult genre and teens everywhere were obsessed. However, for as much love as the series got from teenagers, it was disparaged by adults.

Why was this? Was it because the writing left something to be desired? I certainly know many adult novels that do, so that can’t be it. Was it the plot? Maybe, but most adults weren’t familiar with the actual plot of the novels. No, I think the series was belittled for the same reason UGG boots are no longer in fashion, the same reason Baby Boomers complain about social media and its pervasiveness in our culture. YA is something young, new, and more often than not, created by women.

Since the beginning of time anything teenage girls liked was seen as “less than” and “immature.” It’s still the same today, and now that toxicity has leached into the world’s perception of YA as a genre. Decade after decade established society has attacked anything that is seen as young or feminine. We as a culture like to reside in our tower of refined tastes, laughing at the uncultured people down below.

But you know what? The people down below are enjoying themselves. They’re learning about the world with an open mind, free from embarrassment or a need to put on airs. Isn’t that preferable?

So I invite you to spend some time evaluating your thoughts and perceptions about the Young Adult genre. What’s holding you back? Because to be a global literary citizen you must read Young Adult fiction. It’s expanding in ways you won’t believe until you try it. So come by the store and ask me for a recommendation. I promise you won’t be judged, and you may end up finding a book or author that you absolutely love.

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