Monday, February 25, 2008

To be Young Again

Ever since I started writing my young-adult novel(s), I have increased my daily intake of young-adult reading material as well. It makes sense, to read the type of books you want to write. Right?

But something interesting has happened in that time. I discovered I like books for the young-adult (henceforth referred to as the YA) more than I like books for adults. At least, generally speaking.

Of course, there are exceptions. Recent adult books I read and loved include: The Kite Runner; 1984; and The Thirteenth Tale.

And as much as I can rattle off some great adult books, there is just something about YA books that attract me in a way adult books don't. In some cases, it is the imagination of it all. Exploring the world through a child's eyes, or exploring worlds that seem long-forgotten once we grow into adulthood. I think, too, there is a level of innocence about YA books. Not that YA books don't tackle some sensitive and serious issues. After all, The Chocolate War is, to this day, controversial and often tops the list of books to ban. Which is a shame, since it is a great book. (I don't think it should be banned...although, I also don't think my 9-year-old is ready for it just yet.)

Yet, I think the innocence I'm talking about is more like innocence lost. YA books show the blinders coming off the innocent character, discovering that the world is far more harsh than their own lives might have them believe. Perhaps it is a story about an ophan girl who has never known love, trying to find her place among her knew family. Or perhaps it is the story of a boy who discovers he's a wizard...and that ultimately, that magic can never bring back his parents. Or maybe it is about a girl who simply wishes to be "pretty" like the rest of the world, but learns that perhaps being pretty isn't all its cracked up to be...that people can love you for who you are, and not what you look like.

Mostly, I think reading YA allows me to return to my childhood. To be young again. I hear most adults complain about their adolescence as a time they never wish to return to. But I liked my YA years. It was a time when everything was new, when there was self-discovery, and there was a passion about things that I've lost as I've aged.

It is ironic, really. I started reading adult books when I became a teen. It wasn't until I became an adult that I started reading books meant for teens.

So, next time you're in the library or bookstore, head to the young-adult books and take a look. There's a lot of great material there! It's your chance to be young again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ryan,

Hey... I appreciated your post on bksp.org (about finding time for writing) and thought I'd come over and check out your blog.

My writing genre's YA too, and I certainly agree that YA books have an ability to "take you back" that others do not. Even adult scifi and fantasy novels, which often introduce you to new worlds, always have much heavier, adult overtones that never allow you to experience the childlike wonder (or not for very long) before those grownup problems come along. Nice post.

I go by Jonathan S. on bksp