October 25, 2013

Young Adult Classics

Sometimes I wonder why I write and read young adult fiction when I never read the stuff as a teen, and lots of teens aren't reading it either. So many who read YA fiction are thirty-somethings like me. Are we all trying to recapture bygone youth in our reading habits? Make sense of adolescent experiences that felt meaningless at the time? Cater to our shortening attention spans with high quality work crammed into fewer pages?
Are the only people reading YA literature also the people writing it?

I hope not. I like to think YA lit is widening in its appeal because of its honesty. To me, "YA" is not an age demarcation anymore---it's a literary style, one that caters to readers who prefer their fiction stripped of pretension and charged with emotion.

Today I read an essay defining classic literature as timeless in its portrayal of the human condition. I hope YA fiction's appeal to audiences beyond its intended age group proves there is much being published for teens that could be considered classic---worthy of being taken seriously, not just in our own YA-lit-loving circles, but also in academic realms. I recognize literary critics are not always impressed with the straightforward style often used in YA, but Hemingway is one of many classic authors to prove that word count isn't the only way to add nuance.

So where is YA headed in terms of how it's regarded in the wider literary world? When we're all dead, do you think any of today's YA books will be on AP English required reading lists? Which ones would you choose and why?


gaylene said...

I've wondered these same questions (part of my existential writing crisis). I read a little YA in middle school, but not in high school or college. I think there are a few YA novels that could make an AP list someday, House of the Scorpion, Life of Pi, books like that...

Anonymous said...

I do think that a generation or a time period IS defined by the popular books. future Generations will look at us and see Harry Potter and Twilight. Also the Hunger Games... I am a sucker for young adult books, pure entertainment, not philosphical and intellectual stimulation is my purpose for reading. Guess I didn't answer your question, did I? haha