I’ve come to terms that people will question why I, a 30-year-old reader, love YA books. They won’t understand how I started reading those titles, why I continue to do so even when I’m not the target audience, or why I champion these books and authors. And I’m okay with that realization. I truly am. I don’t need to explain why I read them.
What I’ve had enough with is the shaming or the expectation of adult readers must be excluded from the YA community. Now, I don’t want the adult voice to silence the teen voice. No, that’s not my intention or opinion here. What I want to discuss is how age shouldn’t be a factor when reading YA titles.
A Serious Age Gap in Publishing Pushes Adult Readers to YA
The most popular YA book that came out in my teens was Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. Yes, I fell hard for it. And I can’t stand it now. Although, I like watching the movies when there’s nothing else on. It wasn’t the best series or the strongest representation of that age category. But it shows how teenagers and young adults (18-25) desired this kind of enthusiasm in reading. Still, to this day, young adults and adults (18 and older now) crave these titles. Even though we have the new adult category, it is sorely forgotten by publishers and even authors.
I still need angst in my books and strong and female leads who make mistakes, who I can relate and connect to, who aren’t afraid of making those hard decisions, and who’ve suffered alongside me. But I also desire to see characters who have the same scars as I do. Dealing with mental illness, sexual assault, and trauma also go hand in hand with YA books. Yes, adult books do discuss those topics, but YA authors bring that intensity to their books. They won’t shy away from the tough and emotionally draining topics like oppression and sexual assult/slavery or trauma.
We Older Readers Never Encountered This Kind of Passion in Publishing Before
Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and other blogging platforms are at the forefront of the YA phenomenon, which isn’t dying down anytime soon. Sure, the Millennials experienced Harry Potter, but not all of us were included in that craze though. I found my people in the YA book community. I felt included, understood, appreciated, and accepted. But somehow we adult readers are sometimes shunned from saying we adore YA books.
Adult Books Don’t Provide the Same Reading Experience as YA Titles Do
There. I said it. Sometimes, adult books suck. I don’t want to read about losing a child. I want to explore how the main characters overcome their PTSD. I don’t want to read about weddings when I can’t stand when someone touches me. I want to understand how people can live with their pain and not let it define them. Do I find that in most adult books? No.
YA Books Allows Us Readers to Discover Who We Are
It’s about discovery. YA titles allow readers to see themselves in characters. And I wish I had that same connection to adult books. But I don’t. When I read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, I understood that I had PTSD long before my first diagnosis. I figured out that I needed help from a professional when I read more YA series. People realize who they are when they find their niche in publishing. And unfortunately, adult titles haven’t helped in that department.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a 15-or 30-year-old reader. Enjoy YA books. Don’t let your voice overshadow teens’ voices though. Age should never factor into the love of reading. And we shouldn’t shame other readers for loving YA titles. Read whatever the hell you want!