If there’s one genre I read more than any other, it’s young adult (or, in a few cases, new adult), and to be more specific, contemporary YA. I’m predictable in that way, and not only in books, but also in my choice of movies. Dan and I can be browsing Netflix and he’ll say, “That looks like a movie you would watch,” and it’ll have some coming-of-age description, and we laugh, because he’s right. A few times it’s happened, and I just blush and tell him that, well, it’s actually one I’ve already added to my queue, so he’s right.
High school was not fun. I was good at school, but looking back, I didn’t always feel that close to my friends, no matter how regularly we would hang out or how much I would spill my guts to them; oftentimes I wouldn’t get that same honesty back, and part of me thought I was just too concerned with myself, but I don’t think that’s it, given that I’m not even friends with my “best friend” anymore, and not for lack of trying. High school was lonely and most of my time was spent hanging out with my dad watching Jeopardy!, watching movies until 2am with my cat, or chatting on VampireFreaks (something I still miss, just like LiveJournal, but which feels foreign to me nowadays). Even now, my friends are more virtual than not, so I tend to live vicariously through all the contemporary YA lining my bookshelves and filling the small teen section of my local library.
To be honest, I still don’t feel like an adult most days. (Does anyone ever really feel like one?) I might do adult things, like pay my own bills and go to work and plan a wedding, but where’s the fun in that? Well, okay, the wedding bit is fun. But in general, it’s so much more exciting to dream about driving around with friends listening to music or going to the mall, adventuring someplace new or having a good chat. There’s a certain romantic nature to these stories for me, and while they’re fiction, there’s a truth to them that I feel like my adolescence was sorely lacking most days. It hurts to think about at times, and while I have no wish to go back to high school, I do wish I had that connection you see between best friends in a good YA novel. Friendship is different as an adult, something you have to fit in between work and distance and, maybe someday, children. For now, I’m just drifting through it all, but contemporary YA serves as a kind of anchor for me in this listless existence of mine.
I know YA (and it often seems contemporary YA in particular) can be a polarizing genre, and I can understand why. I’ve heard myriad reasons for why people don’t like it, and they’re perfectly respectable–for the most part–but there’s something about it that I can’t escape. Maybe I’m immature. Maybe I’m living in a dream. But so many of the books I read tug at my heart and resonate with me in ways that other genres don’t most of the time. I am, of course, open to reading any book that sounds like it will interest me or someone suggests I give a chance, but I feel like I’m always going to be biased towards young adult novels more than any other, and in fact it’s what I most like to write myself, alongside poetry.
I’m sure I’m rose tinting things, making them out to be better than they are or would be in real life, but a girl can dream–and I do, every time I open another book.
What are your thoughts on YA? What are your favorites, if you have any?