Young adult literature is not just for young adults. Due to the success of the Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent and many others, YA lit has received a lot of attention. But, books about kids and teens have appealed to adult readers for years. Classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace, Jane Eyre, and Pride & Prejudice all feature young main characters. These young adults, their perspectives and development, are what drive these beloved stories.
The teen years are such a unique time in one’s life. So much is happening and changing as teens try to figure out who they are, who they want to be, and how to best express themselves in an adult-controlled world. They can wake up in the morning as one person and go to bed as someone completely different that night because of the experiences that took place in one life-altering day. It is a time of constant “firsts”…. first love, first broken heart, first view of the evils in the world, first hopeful taste of the beautiful possibilities ahead. This tumultuous time provides the perfect canvas for strong character development and captivating plot lines.
For some teens this time is exhilarating; for others it is a terrible battle of trying to fit in, struggling to discover themselves while dealing with constant self-doubt and uncertainty. Many others, sadly, are experiencing hardship and abuse from the adults in their lives. Because of this, young adult fiction offers a wide variety of topics, some dark and troublesome, some lighter and happily-ever-after; this variety allows teens to find themselves and their troubled world within their reading or to completely escape to a better place. It can also build empathy in readers as they see things through another’s perspective.
If you are an adult and haven’t tried young adult literature, now is the time! The YA sections of your local library or book store are overflowing with outstanding writing, compelling stories & settings, and characters that will stay with you long after the story ends. Take a look! You’ll be surprised at what you will find. Young adult literature, today’s most exciting realm of publishing, offers original, memorable novels in all genres by a plethora of talented authors. YA fiction allows adults the opportunity to experience incredible stories of self-discovery, to revisit the precarious but often delightful feelings of the teen years, and to be reminded that it’s never too late to become who you might have been.