Not too long ago, somebody on the internet took something that a myriad of people love and crumbled it into ashes. “but, Mia, this happens a lot on the internet! people have opinions!” Yes they do. The scoop isn’t that it happened. Opinions are as common as typos on the internet. The scoop isn’t even that it made a lot of people upset. This is something that goes hand in hand with strong opinion expressing. The scoop is why it hurt.
The article in question (arguably click bait) systematically took apart YA fiction. The article in question slated Twilight and Divergent, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and If I Stay. The article in question was firm and clear — YA is not a sophisticated choice for adults to be reading. And maybe it hurt because it’s true. YA isn’t like adult fiction. It’s not supposed to be. That’s what makes it glorious.
I’m not here to add to the growing discontent — both on the YA lovers side of things and on the side of people who think adults shouldn’t only read YA, that there are other greats that should be read too — but to maybe communicate what so far has been a silent thought in YA readers and writers alike: that it hurts. That it cuts into the one thing we cling to in this life and it makes a mockery of us. That when you insult YA fiction you slice into (sometimes) the one solid foundation we rebuilt ourselves from so many years ago when it seemed like there was nothing left in the world worth having.
I think bashing any genre is, primarily, a mistake. I think taking anyone’s passion and placing your own narrow viewpoint upon it is a bad idea. And I think with YA fiction the problem isn’t that it happens, but that it happens so often and so frequently people feel the need to defend themselves. You shouldn’t have to defend art. It’s not meant to be beautiful. It’s meant to make you feel. Rainbow Rowell let me see that. I read it in Eleanor & Park. I whispered it to myself. And I knew it to be true.
Sure, maybe read other books. Maybe branch out and try new things every so often. Maybe read what you want to read and don’t bother to stick a label on it. In the UK, amazon still classifies YA as within the children’s category. Did you know that? It makes finding YA books incredibly difficult but does it make us feel ashamed? Phahaha, no. A book is a snapshot in time and space, surrounded by words that transcend the page. A book isn’t defined by its genre. Genre is there to help you find things that might be similar, not to help you judge the people who enjoy those books.
I read YA fiction most of the time because it’s where my heart lies. It’s not because I enjoyed my youth — quite the opposite, I actually had the darkest time in my teenage years — but because YA fiction offers conflict you don’t often see in adult general fiction. It offers dynamic perspectives of the world. YA fiction isn’t full of the kind of words you learn and use at university. I know that. In fact, I like that. I enjoy books that say what they mean and don’t try to cocoon me in words.
It’s easy to forget that fiction can be as much a lifeline for people as it can be entertaining. Those who have the luxury of just being entertained, and that alone, perhaps are not cut as deeply as those who use fiction, writing, creativity, and art to survive. But some of us really do use writing to survive, some of us use are to survive, and that is why genre slating hurts so much.
To some people, it isn’t just a book or a few words or some teenage characters. It’s more than that. It makes you feel, and perhaps without it the world would melt away into nothing.
Why do you think we are so passionate about books? I am also passionate about HARDCOPIES omg if it is possible to have a crush on hardcopy books I do.