October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Abby Brunn from Georgia.
Teenage years. Arguably the most pivotal time in a person’s life. Full of confusion, expectations, excitement, love, friendship, anger, sadness, happiness, success, discipline, adventure, craziness, and wonder.
A time of so many emotions and experiences. A time of vulnerability.
A time in which any wisdom and understanding on the purpose of life and its trials is welcomed with open arms.
Young-adult (YA) literature, especially in recent years, has been a shelter for its readers, especially those at a growing adolescent age. It has become a source of wisdom and a source of light, giving teenage (as well as adult) readers advice on how to handle the confusing yet beautiful moments that life throws at you. Call it cliche, but it’s true.
Life is horribly difficult and blissfully wonderful at the same time. YA literature allows its readers to experience both sides and helps them cope with the good and bad while also giving them a sense of comfort, showing them that they are not alone. It serves as a teacher; a mentor that introduces morals and advice disguised by plots and characters.
And it teaches willing students. Around the globe, YA has been on the rise. Need proof? You need only go to the nearest bookstore to find that many YA books have graced the front shelves alongside the bestsellers. Oh waitâ€¦ that’s because they are some of the best sellers.
Why would a story about a teenage girl in a car accident be among the most famous books of the moment? Why would a tale of a boy in the center of a maze be given honors and awards from around the globe? Why would someone really care about a novel that talks about a few friends’ boarding school experience together?
It’s actually quite simple. If I Stay by Gayle Forman, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, and Looking for Alaska by John Green all share something in common, along with millions of other YA books. Actually, they share many things, despite their differences in plots.
They all have a moral. They all offer advice. They all are relevant to everyday struggles.
They all leave an impact on their readers. Readers who read the story to be more than just words on a page or an assignment given to them by a literature class at school.
YA literature betters her readers by giving them wisdom and enlightenment about life as the stories progress, and even after they end.
It changes today’s society.
It changes today’s community.
YA literature changes my generation.
YA teaches its readers to value relationships and precious moments. If I Stay does exactly that. By exposing readers to tragedy, the book makes readers think further about the characters in the book and how they must deal with the struggle at hand; it provides answers and inspiration about how to make the most of every moment in the face of both happiness and heartbreak.
Not only does it create a respect for the characters in the book, but it also deepens one’s love and appreciation for their own family members. This is indeed an effect of YA literature- a deepened love and appreciation for the relationships around the reader outside of the book, away from the plots and characters in the pages read. It is very important that this be instilled in the minds of people, teenagers especially, because it is a life lesson that, unless understood before hand, may only expose itself until it’s too late.
YA also encourages its readers to think and use their minds.
Not just to develop knowledge from understanding more vocabulary and context which comes from reading any book, but it also forces its readers to problem solve and come up with ways to solve tasks at hand. In The Maze Runner, the protagonist, Thomas, must escape from the center of a maze. He has to work day and night, in dangerous conditions, in order to make it out. He has to think.
And it tells readers to break barriers, which is an incredibly strong message in this day and age. Though society often likes to confine people from presenting their ideas and visions, YA thinks differently. Thomas must find a way to escape the maze, regardless of the barricades in front of him- the physical struggle to get out, his peers that tell him he won’t be able to do it, and the government that is literally holding him back.
YA allows its readers to understand that it is necessary to stand up and break free of the barriers holding its generation, along with others, back.
One of the areas in which my generation needs to improve is that of self love. In the modern world, men and women are told that they aren’t good enough for various reasons- maybe because of height, gender, weight, skin color, nationality, religious beliefs, and so on.
Looking for Alaska is a great example of a story about a beautiful, powerful girl who throws everything away because she does not love herself. John Green makes sure to present this as a negative personality trait. (SPOILER ALERT) Alaska’s self hate ends up being her destruction, which is crucial for readers to understand. YA has an effect on my generation in the sense that it makes the reader value him/herself more. That alone could greatly improve the current young adult generation- by increasing one’s individual value, a value of a community is increased.
In short, there are endless ways in which YA improves its people, its readers, its generation. It is impossible to talk about all in such a short period of time. But YA has an effect; it is evident in the everyday lives of the generation that listens to its stories.
Abby Brunn lives in south Georgia (in the heat!). When she isn’t writing or reading, she is spending time with her family, taking pictures, or playing tennis or various sports.