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February 22, 2024

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    Lauren Slater crafts diligent, depictive metaphors in narrative, and I hate her writing, simultaneously. Should there be lying in memoir? In her book, Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir (2000), Slater crafts lies from epilepsy to nunneries to doctor visits and proposed peer reviewed theses to AA meetings. However, within these lies, she allows us to question […]
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Spring Housing Guide

YA books are worth their salt

There’s that one section in a bookstore that you might glance around to make sure no one is looking before you commit to browsing the book selection and I’m not talking about erotica.

Sometimes when I sidle up to the Young Adult book section I feel like I need to pretend I’m looking for someone else. Part of that comes from the territory- I’ve been a permanent fixture in that part of any bookstore a year shy of a decade- which means as a YA reader on the opposite end of the age spectrum I feel a little weird holding a book an 11 year old is buying. When I was 11 I didn’t really care about reading YA material, I thought it was cool that I was reading semi-mature content that most of my peers weren’t into yet.

However, now that I’m in college I feel pressured to step up my game and make my concrete step into the adult section. I have been reading adult novels since my pre-teen years, but I’ve found that the writing can be pretentious and less appetizing to the imagination at times. When you’re slammed with academic readings for three different lectures, an adult novel with existential metaphors and a superfluous vocabulary does not bode well for a nice, relaxing read that’s easy to digest whenever you have a spare moment to pick it up.

A YA novel can be a quick, satisfying read that goes down smooth and easy like soft-serve ice cream and often the stories can be seen on the silver screen as well.

By definition “YA novels” are intended for an audience between the ages of 12 to 18 and they’re usually outfitted with characters within that age range. This gives way for plots that are set-up as coming of age dramas or simple plots that present the characters with the struggles that arise as one navigates the beginning of adulthood.

As a college student I have a lot to relate with to a character growing into their “adult” skin or in hindsight I have a lot to reminisce on with a character just coming into the whirlpool of adult freedom.

Another turn-away for some is the immature covers that YA books are swimming in. It’s tough wanting to read a book your younger sister has probably read, but it’s embarrassing carrying around a book sleeve that looks like it got it’s art off an amateur illustrator off tumblr.

Fortunately, the maturity is all yours to claim if you train yourself to overlook poor design decisions and maintain confidence when selecting a novel. The growth of a reader is not marked by what section they linger most in, the number of books they hoover or the intended age level of the writing; it’s their acceptance of what they find intellectually stimulating and in the simplest case, enjoyable.

With online libraries and electronic book programs, it’s easier now more than ever to discretely purchase YA stuff if you wish to keep it a guilty pleasure kind of hobby. Another good source is any younger sibling or friend, and you’ll run the chance of bonding with them if you both enjoy the book.

If you’ve never dipped your toe into the YA pool, it might be difficult finding a book that is satisfying enough to take home. A good method of attack is finding an author you enjoy and seeing if they have written in the YA genre or have friends that have. Another safe bet is talking to a librarian/employee; regardless of the genre they usually love giving book recommendations.

As for my personal recommendation, I advise any fan of a “boy meets girl” story to check out “Eleanor & Park,” by Rainbow Rowell. For a YA novel it has a simple pace, but an honest story that feels like it could happen in your own town.

YA novels may be intended for a specific age group, but more often than not authors older than that specific age group write them. If an adult writes a book, there’s no harm in an adult reading the book.

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