Here at MP! Books, we pretty much live, breathe, and eat YA. If we’re not reading the latest Rainbow Rowell or Sarah J. Maas you should probably call the police because we have definitely been possessed by a demon.
So, with all these YA-bashing articles surfacing every few months, you can see why we might have a problem with the hate. Especially when the hate doesn’t even make sense.
One of the issues some critics seem to have with Young Adult fiction is how it strives for diversity.
More than any other book classification, YA really pushes the boundaries, and while it’s not by any means perfect, we can’t figure out what these people think is wrong with having diverse books. We guess being a white, straight, able-bodied male living in the first world can leave you blindsided to the struggles of literally everyone else in existence…
Just because this critic can already see himself in literature means, what? That transgender people, autistic people, immigrants, people of colour, self-harmers and, indeed, vampires, don’t deserve the same?
Not only is having a diverse cast of characters in books SO important for representation reasons, and helping global readers outside of the heterosexual white “norm” feel like they belong, but it’s pretty good for educating too.
For example, if you’re not transgender, you might not realise the difficulties of being so until you read #OwnVoices novel ‘If I Was Your Girl‘ by Meredith Russo. Being exposed to new situations through your books helps your empathy if you have to support an IRL friend through something similar, or just generally reminds you that just because someone looks, sounds, or does something differently to you… doesn’t mean they’re all that different.
The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign say it best: we need “literature that reflects and honours the lives of all young people“. And why shouldn’t we have it? Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected on the page! Whether that be through books about mental health or those celebrating LGBTQ+ in YA we want everybody to feel welcome.
And if we’re being completely honest…
Anyone who has a problem with diversity in YA obviously has a problem with the diverse world IRL… and we think that kinda makes you a bigot.
Diversity isn’t the only thing critics love to hate when it comes to YA though, oh no. Apparently, Young Adult literature is just “gossip fodder” as well.
Two seconds, let’s just get out our insanely long list of YA faves that deal with pretty serious, pretty hefty issues and problems that teens face everyday:
Self harm, depression, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual assault, suicide, anxiety, family issues, transphobia, homophobia, and racism are just a few issues talked about in YA, and we’re pretty sure these can’t be fobbed off as insignificant.
For many, YA is an escape from their real world troubles, and can be the light that helps them through.
In fact, the great bookish community we all know and love decided to start the #YAPrepares hashtag this week to show, once and for all, that YA really is beneficial. Check it out:
— Jim (@Yayeahyeah) August 22, 2016
Beautiful Broken Things looks at mental health and the responsibility of doing the right thing #YAprepares
— Rachel (@_sectumsemprah) August 22, 2016
What's a Girl Gotta Do? explores whether you should put your beliefs aside when it comes to your education/career #YAprepares
— Jess Hearts Books (@JessHeartsBooks) August 22, 2016
— Cora Linn ☕️ (@Corazzz) August 22, 2016
We really shouldn’t be surprised about all this commotion, since Zoella’s Book Club recently came under fire for pretty ludicrous reasons too. We said it then and we’ll say it again: “Just because we opt to read YA over ‘War and Peace’ […] doesn’t mean we only hoard air in our skulls”.
While the general consensus from these YA-bashers is that we’re being robbed of the chance of becoming “literate adults” we just want to stand up and say “oh hell no!” Surely the very notion of our book-obsession, our ability to read and write, by default makes us literate?
— Lisa (CityOfYABooks) (@cityofyabook) August 22, 2016
And a lot of us are actually already adults, thank you very much, who love the escapism of Cassandra Clare and reading Louise O’Neill‘s feminist AF social commentary novels. So we can rock the adult world AND only read Young Adult fiction – and guess what, it doesn’t make us any more or less intelligent than if we were digging into ‘Ulysses’.
Clickbait articles from respected sources make me sick to my core. Not all readers enjoy the same thing and NO ONE should belittle anyone.
— Liz de Jager (@LizUK) August 22, 2016
People are allowed to like whatever they like #fact. Just because something is old and taught in schools doesn’t automatically make it better. In fact, if Young Adult had been an age classification way back in the day, did you know that some of the classics being taught in classes today would’ve been… *gasp* YAs themselves!
That’s right, we’re talking William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee, and many, many more.
Plus, why are fans of Young Adult books expected to solely read for intellectual pursuit? For many of us, reading is just a hobby, and last time we checked a hobby is supposed to be FUN.
Co-author of the hilarious ‘Waiting for Callback‘, Perdita Cargill sums it up fairly here:
— Perdita (@perditact) August 22, 2016
So no, sometimes what we read isn’t the most stimulating, doesn’t deal with big philosophical questions, and doesn’t really make us think at all… but what’s so wrong with that? Sometimes all we want is a light-hearted funny book to snuggle down with and – NEWSFLASH! – that’s perfectly okay.
YA doesn’t negate something being good or bad, just like all of the books published under Adult can’t wholly be called good or bad. Contrary to popular belief, YA isn’t a genre, but YA books do HAVE genres. YA fantasies, YA historical fiction, YA romances, YA mystery… and the list goes on.
The point is that you can’t call a whole collection of something good or bad based on one or two highly popular novels. Each book offers something different and unique to the world, and that’s why we love it so much.
As Juno Dawson said in her clapback against Joe Nutt’s recent article: “Any YA author is quite used to being patronised, but we sleep comfortably knowing we’re writing some of the most compelling, relevant, inventive, inspiring novels on the market at the moment.”
What do you think about all the recent drama? Are you as tired of seeing the bi-annual YA bashing as we are? Let’s chat about it all @maximumpopbooks!
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