Thursday, February 11, 2010

No Shame In It

My name is Cynthia and I read YA. There, I said it and now you can too. It seems that many adults are ashamed to tell me that they like to read young adult books - I've had more than one adult reader come up to me and quietly tell me how much they liked DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS, hoping that nobody around would overhear what they've been reading.

I'm not a teen. Okay, you can stop laughing now. Full disclosure, I graduated high school in the 1980s. Way back then, we didn't really have anything called YA. We had Judy Blume (I remember reading FOREVER in school with the cover torn off because if they caught you with it, the teachers would take it away), and then we went straight to adult novels. Come on, tell me you didn't read FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC. Kids today are so lucky.

Today's YA books are honest, brutal, funny, fast-paced and romantic. We don't spend three pages talking about the wind whispering through the trees. We don't have time. Our readers want to jump into a story, have it envelop them and live through the characters until they close the last page. Books like TWILIGHT and THE LOVELY BONES have given many adults their first taste of YA writing, and I'm hearing that many of them want more. I can read between the lines when you all ask me about a good YA title for your daughter. Yes (wink wink, nudge, nudge) for your daughter.

Because I'm so entrenched in the world of YA that's pretty much all I read. My nightstand has a towering stack of titles that I'm dying to get to: FLASH BURNOUT by LK Madigan, THE DARK DIVINE by Bree Despain, THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner and BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl are at the top of the pile. My husband recently took my copy of Scott Westerfeld's LEVIATHAN on a business trip and really enjoyed it. I honestly have no idea what is going on in the world of grown-up books. But I bet they're not having as much fun as we are.

While I adore my teen audience, I hope that many adults read DLS too. I think there is just as much in the story for them as there is for teens. That's what my readers are telling me, albeit in hushed tones. The next time you're in a bookstore, wander over to the Teen or Young Adult section. Take a look at the beautiful covers and read some of the flaps. Steady yourself, because you'll probably be surprised at how many of them you want to read. Go ahead and carry a few up to the cashier and say, just a little too loudly, that you are buying these for your kid.

We won't tell him that your kid is only five.

On this date: In 1990, Nelson Mandela is released from prison.


Kami Garcia said...

Thanks for saying what we all think. And BTW- I read FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC until it was shredded & DLS is in my pile. xxx

Daisy Whitney said...

I feel like we have this great secret because we know how awesome YA books are, only we don't want it to be a secret because we want everyone to read YA!

Pam said...

I am an adult who mainly reads and blogs YA. I guess I should be ashamed of myself? Guess what.. I'm not. My business cards say YA, and my blog got me a spiffy new job. I came to this post via a YA author...

cynjay said...

I'm honored that you all stopped by!

Just goes to show that YA writers (and readers!) are the best. Whoot!

Julie_c said...

I read a lot of Sweet Valley High in High School. (That should tell you how old I am!) Personally, I don't understand feeling ashamed by reading YA. YA IS FUN! Last Christmas I was trying to pick out a book for my mother in the regular fiction section and it was all: widow tries to learn who she is, divorced mom tries to take her life back. Blah,blah. Stella getting her groove back seems to be a major theme. YA seems to have more originality and voice.

(Although these days I'm in the graphic novel section a lot and I do stick out like a sore thumb there.) :)

BTW - I lent my fully grown friend Heather my copy of DLS and she loved it too.

cynjay said...

Sweet Valley High - you're right, I forgot. And you are going to revolutionize the genre of the graphic novel. Tell Heather thanks for me!