Monday, July 1, 2013

Falling in Love with YA All Over Again

I haven't blogged in forever. Ooops. I've been traveling, writing and READING! Oh, reading. I think I forgot how much I love reading. It's not like I ever stopped, but I'd slowed. With kids and work and writing, my habit dropped from a book a day to probably two a month. Enter my library's e-book catalog and I am DEVOURING books again.

I feel like I'm playing catch up for the greatest YA hits of the last five years, but oh, is it fun. The wonder, the self-doubt, the heady romance. I've lived a dozen lifetimes between digital pages, falling in love over and over.

And you know what? It's completely reaffirmed everything I love about YA literature. Rationally, I'd never want to be a teen again (would I?), but how I wish I could go to boarding school in Paris or fall in love with my best friend all over again. To be young and having nothing but promise.

With the rise of New Adult, I know a lot of writers that are successfully transitioning to books about college and finding oneself as a grown up (yay for my NA writer friends!). Maybe it's because college was NOT the best years of my life or that I'm not into reading about other people having sex or that actual grown up problems don't captivate me, but NA just doesn't resonate with me the way the angst and drama and intensity of YA does.

As part of my travels this summer, I visited my hometown and that always brings my adolescence (let's pretend I spelled that right the first time) into sharp focus. I never moved back after starting college (because I was silly enough to take summer classes), so all my memories of that place are seen through the hazy lens of teenage idealism. There is a lot of pain there, a lot of disappointment. Broken friendships and failed romance. But how beautiful it looks, how simple, through these grown up eyes.

When I curl up with a book, I want to escape. I want to make the problems of my grown-up, responsibility-saddled life disappear. I want the problems I read about to be real and strong and conquerable (hey! That's a real word!).

YA has a way of making the ordinary MATTER in a way I love. I remember the point in my senior year of high school when I decided I was done pretending I enjoyed reading adult books and went back to the YA section of my library with glee. Sitting in front of that small shelf, surrounded by kids 4-6 years younger than me, I knew I was home.

So give me instalove and characters that skip homework to save the world and best friends and arguments about curfew. Give me bad choices and inconsequential choices that seem like the end of the world. Give me gym class hatred and sneaking into bedrooms for sexless sleepovers. Because those are the fantasies that make this woman's inner 15-year-old swoon.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I am a first kiss to write and the cute, sweet, funny boy with glasses needs to break through my main character's walls before they can get there. Yay YA!

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