Thursday, April 30, 2015

Reasons to Read YA … even when you’re more A than Y.

Nostalgia. Isn’t it lovely to feel young again? To remember your youth. Things pop and zing in your brain that you had completely forgotten about when you think back to your teenage years. Reading through the eyes of a teenager can almost transport you back in time. Hubba Bubba, Charlie Red perfume and Coffee Shimmer lipstick. Temporary Mahogany hair dye and Smash Hits. Suddenly, I remember it well. And it’s not quite as shit as I had previously recalled.

Fresh voices. Teenagers are still full of hope. They have the world at their feet, they’re not steeped in the mundane trivia of direct debits, energy suppliers, the deficit, mortgages, garden centres and kitchen showrooms. Their concerns are far more basic but also more important. They think about love and friendships and all of the things that are just so much nicer than money and that is so much more pleasant to read about.

The thrill of the new. Opening yourself up to any genre that you don’t normally tend to read can be good for you. Step outside of your comfort zone. Discover authors that you wouldn’t usually come across. Change is invigorating.

Reconnect. If you have children, reading YA can be a fun way to connect with them. Refresh your memory. Understand what they are experiencing and feeling. Swoon over the same gorgeous young man. Which leads me on to …

*WARNING* MAY CONTAIN NICE BOYS. Not cartoon versions of men that can be often found in more adult romance stories. No selfish and abusive Christian Grey types. Satisfying characters which we can all adore.

Escapism. YA is a beautifully diverse genre. Many YA novels are so much more inventive than their grown-up counterparts. I’m not sure why. Perhaps authors assume that their younger readers need to be kept on the hook more. I can guarantee that you will find some juicy page-turners.

Instant satisfaction. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all YA novels, but a lot of them are shorter in length. You could sit and read a book in one sitting. You can devour it. There will be short and snappy chapters, cliff-hangers all the way through. It’s delicious.

Milestones. Important ones. Ones that you never forget. That first kiss, first sexual experience, ‘I love you’. Those coming of age landmarks are eternally etched in our memories because they matter. Always.

Compelling characters. Let’s face it, teenagers can be volatile, emotional walking bags of hormones. They are also vulnerable and not quite ready for the big scary outside world. There’s an honesty, I think, that you get in YA books that you don’t quite get elsewhere. You can really get behind a YA character and root for them.

Well-written. Not all of them, obviously, and nothing is ever perfect. But the writing has to be strong if you wish to engage younger readers. You have to capture adolescence just right, otherwise they won’t appreciate it and rightly so.

And here is my own YA novel:

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