Why YA?

I recently joined Facebook group for writers interested in finding beta readers or critique partners.  It’s mostly a good group, and I’ve made a couple of connections. So, that’s great.

A few posts by writers asking about YA have caught my attention. They typically include some derisive comments about people who write YA. Whether only insinuated or stated outright (as below), there is still a lot of stigma surrounding YA writers and literature. But why? Why are there still people in the world who turn their noses up at books targeted toward a younger audience?

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Exhibit 1

I have a few theories–some of them nicer than others–but I can’t say for sure why there are writers in the world who think those who produce YA are lazy or looking for an easy layup. What I can tell you is why I write YA.

I write the books I’m most drawn to. For whatever reason, an idea gets caught in my head and I feel compelled to write. Sometimes these ideas are about younger people and would be best suited for a younger audience. I choose to write YA because it’s such an interesting time of a person’s life–particularly high school. Consider that change that happens during high school. Look at the incoming freshmen and outgoing seniors. First dates, first dances, first love. Pick a college, pick a career, pick a  life. All of these experiences are stories waiting to be written, and needing to be told so young people know that they’re not alone in dealing with the pressure of choice and consequence.

I write YA because I like YA stories. I write YA because there are hearts and minds waiting to be spoken to and desperate to be heard. Books can give them the courage to take a leap and find their own path. Just look at Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. I dare anyone to read that book and not come out a different person on the other side. That’s the power of YA literature.

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