The Hate U Give, The Poet X, Children of the Blood and Bone, The Fault in Our Stars, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter. If you have heard of any of these titles (which I’m sure you have) you are probably familiar with Young Adult Literature. This genre is a category of fiction typically written for readers from the ages of 12 to 18 years old. Even though the target audience for the genre are teenagers, around half of the people who consume YA fiction are adults. This may be surprising to hear, but when you break it down, it’s pretty easy to understand why this is such a popular genre.
One big factor about YA’s appeal is that it is coming of age. This simply refers to most of the young protagonists in these novels are on progression towards maturity and growth. This is relatable to many readers because throughout the course of our lifetimes, we are constantly growing, changing, and experiencing the world for ourselves. Why not read something that relates to our own personal journeys and give us some potential guidance along the way? In YA Literature, you can find some of the most diverse protagonists in fiction. This is important because all different kinds of people can find someone that they can identify within this genre. One powerful example of representation within YA literature is Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, which follows a young Black teenager’s struggle with police brutality and racism in her own community.
Personally, I love YA literature not only because of the diverse characters and story lines, but because there is no limit to what YA can be. There are YA mystery, fantasy, romance, and many other sub genres. There are also novels that are written in regular prose or verse (like The Poet X). One of my favorite YA novels that I have read recently is Renée Ahdieh’s Flame in the Mist, which follows a samurai’s daughter who disguises herself as a boy to get revenge on a clan who tried to kill her. In this story in particular, Japanese folklore is woven throughout which seeps the book in amazing magical realism.
Young Adult Literature is not just a genre for younger teens. It’s a genre for anyone who wants to explore diverse characters, worlds, and stories. It’s a genre that embodies the art of storytelling and coming of age narratives. It is not an ‘immature’ genre as some like to categorize it. YA literature has touched upon important and heavy topics such as race, gender, and injustice. It is a genre that should never be underestimated.
If this sounds like a genre you may be interested in, Eastern also offers a Young Adult Literature class online over the summer that is taught by Sarah Todd. Previous books that have been covered include The Hate U Give, The Poet X, and several others. It also counts as an Arts class for those who may still need their general education art requirement. Young Adult Literature is an amazing and powerful genre. Check it out, or sign up for Eastern’s class, either way, you won’t regret it.