Joining the YA Party

At Salon, an article suggesting what many of us have known for a while: that YA novels can be as well (or better) written and as touching as any novel for adults. About The Fault in Our Stars and There is No Dog in particular, Laura Miller writes:

“Both of these novels ask questions as difficult as those posed by any serious writer: Why do we suffer, why must we die, and what meaning can be found in any of it? More important, they are not afraid to respond to these questions unflinchingly. These books are often — very often — funny, but they aren’t frivolous. I can think of a dozen acclaimed contemporary adult novelists who blunder through this territory, wallowing in sinkholes of sentiment, tangling their narratives in thickets of saccharine fabulism. It makes no sense that the maudlin goo that is “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” should be classified as a work for adults, when “The Fault in Our Stars,” a far more mature rumination on the same themes, is regarded as a children’s book. Likewise, why should grown-ups be subjected to the cutesy “The Life of Pi” while teenagers get to revel in an astringent fable like “There Is No Dog”?”

I’m glad to see a review for YA novels that doesn’t include the phrase “Most YA novels are bad, but this one is surprisingly good.” It’s nice to see the genre get some recognition. Just as in fiction for adult audience, there’s a huge range of good and bad, and many readers would find favorite novels in the YA category.

Unfortunately, Miller also says:

“It’s debatable whether Rosoff’s shrewd, trim prose might not occasionally fly just over the heads of teen reader…”

Considering the teens I’ve heard from who read books like Rosoff’s or Green’s, there’s no question about whether or not they get the prose. These are teens who are actively pursing crisp writing and compelling stories, and can certain understand as much as any average adult reader. More respect for YA novels? Awesome. But we also need respect for young adult readers.

0 thoughts on “Joining the YA Party

  1. Stephanie says:

    So true. People need to understand that classic literature and adult literature isn’t the only respectable form. Half the books adults love are commercial in nature, anyway—like James Patterson books. YA books are fun, fantastic, and often dripping with meaning. I love them.

    And anything that gets people to read more IS worth commending.

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