Friday, May 30, 2014

Armchair BEA: YA and I

YA is Armchair BEA's prompt of the day.

I almost missed YA.  Seriously, when I was in high school the first couple Harry Potter books were taking the world by storm, but I was beyond this young witches and wizards stuff by then.  I had started to trod the hallowed halls of high school (Ha!), and with those days came carte blanche to finally read whatever I wanted.  I considered myself a Reader with a capital "R," and I was ready to eschew all this "stupid kid stuff" to spend my long, hot summer days with frightfests by Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  Digging into John Grisham's legal thrillers and the freshly minted Oprah's Book Club titles was way more enticing to me than reading about high school horrors and romances among kids that reminded me of the annoying teenagers I walked the halls with every day.  I couldn't wait to be out of high school, and I certainly didn't want to spend my free time reading about it.

Luckily, my life and times on the interwebz wouldn't let me put this whole wealth of YA in the rearview.  Rather, day by day friendly Bookcrossers and then bloggers convinced me of the merit of this body of work I was so eager to leave behind.  By the time I was in college, I was already backing away from Dean Koontz's laughable metaphors (sorry Dean, but I think even you make fun of your metaphors now) and James Patterson's two page chapters (and I thought YA might talk down to me??) in favor of the very Harry Potter books I was "too good for" in high school.  I loved them so much that they may have, on occasion, actually made me late for work at my summer job slinging dishes in a nursing home dietary department (no great loss there).

Since then, I've lost myself in numerous YA books of the highest quality like...

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Did I even need to say it?)
Sparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor
Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Open Wounds by Joseph Lunievicz
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

....and so very many more excellent reads. 

Truly, truly I owe Bookcrossers and bloggers a great debt of gratitude for bringing me back to what has become one of my favorite categories of books.  A category that can hardly be called a genre because it seems to cover all genres.  Now I read YA when I'm looking for a break from the occasional slog of interpreting literary/contemporary fiction because I know I can count on YA for solid reads that dabble in any of a few genres with relate-able characters that won't ask me to leave my brain at the cover to enjoy them.  Great YA authors today are writing books that ask important questions that will give young adults (and the crusty old grown-ups who read their books) food for thought all delivered with quick pacing and fantastic characters that render those books completely unputdownable. 

My bookshelves and my Kindle are both loaded down with YA, and I couldn't be happier to be young again, if only in the books that I read.  How about you?


  1. I also felt "too old" for Harry Potter when the books first came out! I think I was a junior in high school. My younger sister was a huge fan (she's four and a half years younger than I am). I didn't end up reading the HP books until after college, and I've re-read them a few times over the last decade! Middle grade and YA books are among the best published. They're written for an audience that is really receptive to life-changing worlds and ideas.

  2. I didn't really get into Harry Potter until I was out of high school. I got sucked in, and was one of those hanging out at the store for Deathly Hallows to come out at midnight. lol

  3. I was definitely too old for YA, but I got into it as a librarian, and kind of miss it now that I don't work with teens anymore. I never did like A Great and Terrible Beauty that much, though, and didn't go on with the books that came after.