04 November 2010

Guest Post from Author: Jesi Lea Ryan

YA Lit—Not Just For Kids Anymore

        If you would have asked me a few years ago what I thought about Young Adult literature, I might have said something like, “Sweet stories with stereotypical characters, living sugar coated lives. Not worth my time to read, but okay for thirteen year olds.” Of course, I would have been basing this opinion on the last YA books I’d read which were The Sweet Valley High books when I was twelve years old. Once I graduated into my teens, I wanted more substance than YA could give me, so I moved on to adult fiction.

        My reintroduction to YA lit was similar to a lot of women my age…Twilight. When a friend of mine suggested that I read this teenage vampire series, I thought she was nuts. Hadn’t I outgrown YA ages ago? However, the friend insisted and I was weak, so I bought the box set read the whole thing…in four days. When I was done, I read it again. I enjoyed the Twilight series so much that I began seeking out other YA books. I read books by Laurie Halse Andersen, Neil Gaimen, Alyson Noel, Richelle Mead, Maggie Stiefvater, and others. As my rekindled interest in YA literature grew, I began to notice many other adults reading YA as well. I began to realize that the new YA books have evolved the genre into mass market appeal, not bound by generation or age limitations.

        What is it about today’s YA books which make them so much more appealing to adults than the YA books of the past? For me, it’s all about the emotion. The teen years are such a dynamic time. We experience our first loves, get our first tastes of independence and make decisions about what we are going to do for the rest of our lives. On top of this teens experience heaps of social pressure, a rigid caste system of cliques and the seriously messed up hormones—no wonder there is so much to write about! While I couldn’t wait to get my teen years over with as fast as possible, I now look back at that time with a different perspective, one of wonder and hope. Reading YA books lets me enjoy the teen years in a way that I missed the first time.

        This led me to wonder if other adult YA readers felt the same way, or if they read these books for other reasons. I sat down with several adult readers to get their perspectives. First, we discussed their motivations for why they read YA.

        “I read and write both adult and YA. I don't prefer one over the other, but yes, they each have their own feel. Good YA lit has a near-constant fast pace, and since the word count is generally lower, the wording is much more punchy and efficient. Adult lit sometimes feels over-worded to me, especially after just finishing a YA novel, but there are times when I'm in the mood for a slower read.” Lydia, age 32

        “I'm in a stage of life where I prefer YA lit to adult. I think this is because my youth was painful, and I like reading about teens going through hardships and coming through them. I'm grappling with pieces of my past, and YA helps me to see that these issues are real, they exist for other people; and just like me, these characters do the best they can. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes not, but they survive.” Schuyler, age 40

        “YA lit gets to the point! They don’t mess around with 30 pages of introspection and 100 pages of back-story. Sure there is angst and (occasionally) very silly emotional mistakes, but usually the stories are better written and better crafted. Kids won’t cut writers any slack so they better get into the story and keep it moving.” Jennifer, age 45

        Next, I asked them how YA has changed since they were teens.

        “I think they've gotten more specific regarding technology references, clothing/pop-culture styles, etc. Also, I think the YA books that deal with more controversial subjects (teen pregnancy, suicide, sexuality) are now more likely to be mainstream books, rather than something that a librarian would have to point out to a kid.” Victoria, age 33

        “The main difference is that there are many more YA novels published now covering a wider range of genres. The best YA authors continue to deal with difficult issues with sensitivity, honesty and respect for their readers intelligence.” Mike, age 42

        “I think authors are daring to put more controversial issues in YA these days, and I say, "Heck yes!" There are so many topics that used to be taboo in the YA genre, that now are becoming more common. Sex, drugs, alcohol, and all those right/wrong, black/white/gray topics. I think books have a lot of power to change a person, and I think they can be extremely influential, especially in teens. I'm loving how today's YA is bringing up topics in a real, honest, and open way.” Shannon, age 23

        So now I would like to turn this topic over to you. Why do you read YA books? Were there particular authors or topics that drew you into the YA genre? How have these books changed since you were a teen?



Title: Four Thousands Miles
Author: Jesi Lea Ryan
Publisher: DCL Publications, 430 pages (November 7th 2010
ebook released on October 7th, 2010)
Preorder here: No ordering details at this time.

Synopsis: When Natalie Spencer loses both her career and marriage in the same morning, the emotional shock sends her on a spontaneous journey to England. There, she is nearly mugged in a Tube station, but an introverted songwriter named Gavin Ashby scares off her attackers. Recognizing Natalie’s fragile state, Gavin offers help and invites her to recuperate from her trauma at his country home.

As she adjusts to her new role and surroundings, Natalie finds healing by helping others. Gavin and his family begin to accept Natalie into their hearts, leading her to a choice…abandon her old life in the States and trust in a new chance at love, or flee once again?

Go to http://tiny.cc/t4rjg for an excerpt.




Find Jesi Online:

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Jesi, thanks so much for stopping by with your guest post. Keep an
eye out for a review of her book Four Thousand Miles here soon.

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4 comments:

  1. I was actually just thinking about this subject the other day. We still have adults (myself) that watch cartoons so why would adults read ya books? ya know?
    I think you spelled it all out very nicely!

    Liz ^_^
    www.vampyrekisses.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love YA, and like you, I started by devouring the Twilight series. Two other YA authors I love are John Green (Looking for Alaska) and Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games). Let's hear it for YA! Great post, Jesi Lea!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jesi, I can think of some books I read as a teenager that I would go back and re-read today. So I guess it just goes to show you're never too old!

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a wonderful and well-thought out guest post. It's interesting to see how other adults view the YA books of today. When I was younger, I read some YA, but I found myself drawn more to adult books, eager for more, but now that I'm slightly older (only 22) I'm drawn back into YA. My shelves consist mostly of YA and I think it's because the YA market has exploded.

    More and more YA books are hitting the shelves with a variety of topics, so there's much more to choose from. And with that, the books are well-written and there's always something out there for every single person to relate to.

    ReplyDelete

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