Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The YA Conundrum

An interesting article on CBC Arts talks about the idea of adult-to-YA crossover with some popular fiction, books like The Girls, Life of Pi, Curious Incident. The article sort of gives me a bit of hope in terms of a book I'm working on right now. The story of four young women in Banff, Alberta, I'm finding the more I write it, the more it comes out YA fiction. And I can't really tell if that's a bad thing or not?

Yet, the books that impacted me most when I was a child were definitely not kids books. Or maybe that's because I'm thinking of my YA reading days as being in high school, past my Sweet Valley High stage, past the only ever writing stories about twin sisters stage, past Little House on the Prairie (well, well past) and Little Women, past SE Hinton (oh, Ponyboy, I still have you in my scrapbook), and past the beloved Judy Blume, where I devoured Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, William S. Burroughs, Margaret Atwood and Salinger.

But there's one fact that the article seems to overlook, it's not that YA crossover books are a new phenom, it's just that now publishers are actively marketing them as such. For years, girls that I knew, voracious readers all, were dipping into their mother's libraries and reading well above their age level. All the boys I knew read like mad and recommended much of what made my everyday bus ride bearable. Give the kids some credit, they're finding The Girls et al because they're great books, great books that deserve a chance regardless of your age group. Having it now somewhat defined as 'trend' seems to demean the entire idea of kids coming into their own when it comes to literature. Something they've been doing for generations, well, at least since my generation.

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