If you’re a regular The Daily Vox reader, you’ve probably noticed how often we laud YA or Young Adult fiction.
But what on earth is YA, you ask?
YA is basically a marketing category meaning literature written for teenagers. The category was born at the turn of the 20th century when librarians began curating books for teenagers. But more and more adults are reading YA – thanks to Harry Potter. The series by British author JK Rowling broke taboos around which books should be read by which ages and basically ushered in the current YA renaissance. Here’s why YA is the bee’s knees.
Coming of age themes and relevance
Most YA books follow the theme of finding your place in the world whether this means finding your purpose, overcoming trauma, coming to terms with your sexuality, and yes, falling in love for the first time. This theme is universally relevant but especially relevant for millennials who have typically experienced delays in “adulting” milestones like buying homes, cars, and getting married. It can also be comforting to read a love story about a girl who is falling in love with the popular guy she is fake dating the way Lara Jean Covey fell for Peter Kavinsky in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.
Seeing hard hitting issues through the lens of a teen
But besides coming of age themes, YA deals with some of the most hard hitting issues. These books delve into police brutality, gang violence, rape and all through the lens of a teenager. In these books, young people go through big traumas, overcome them and express big ideas about truth and justice which often leaves the reader feeling optimistic. In The Hate U Give, Starr Carter has to deal with the trauma of seeing a policeman shoot her childhood friend before her eyes. YA shows younger readers that they have the power to reshape the future despite how dark the present might seem. This is a message that’s important for the youth to grapple with.
Representation, representation, representation
We’re still struggling to see diversity on our big screens but this couldn’t be less true for YA novels. In YA, there is diversity without even looking like it’s deliberate. In The Son is Also A Star, a Korean-American Daniel Kingsley and a Jamaican Natahsa Kingsley meet and fall in love with each other in New York City. Then in Love From A to Z, Muslim teens Zayneb falls for Adam in Doha and it’s a halal romance. But besides interracial relationships, YA deals with all sorts of contemporary issues: teen pregancy, drug abuse, suicide, immigration, Islamophobia, fatphobia. In Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda, Simon comes to terms with being gay and falls in love for the first time. It’s more relevant than the decidedly white stories that are told in other book genres and on big screens.
If you haven’t read a YA novel before, give it a go.
Here are 5 YA books that we 10/10 would recommend:
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
- Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda by Becki Albertelli
- Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali
- The Son Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon