Monday, July 02, 2007

The Summer of YA

The title should really read "The Summer of Reading Young Adult Novels," but I thought "The Summer of YA" was more enigmatic and catchy. Whatever.

The point is that I've been reading YA books for the last month or so. My excuse for this has been my soon-to-be 13 year old granddaughter (she needs some reading guidance). But really, who needs an excuse? This has been fun!

I've noticed some differences between the YA literature I've been reading and the usual adult fare that I consume. I first noticed that I "felt" different when reading YA literature. I felt hopeful; I felt like the whole world was one giant possibility; I felt twelve. Yes, there are some general differences between adult and YA lit.

Adult literature tends to have a strong sense of the past which often includes a wistfulness and a sense of regret. This makes sense since the characters are generally adults (sometimes elderly) with a past to look back upon and to regret. Adult lit can look forward, but that look forward is usually influenced by the past.

Contrast this with the YA literature that I've been reading. These stories are drenched in a sense of hope and wonder and looking forward. The main characters are young and we see things through their eyes. They don't have much of a past and so look forward to what will be in all of its possibilities. Remember that outlook? That was the really good part about adolescence. Yes, the situations in these novels are challenging and sometimes heartbreaking, but the outlook during the challenges and the tendency to look forward are refreshing.

In case you've wondered what YA books I've been reading:
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (finished)
Enna Burning by Shannon Hale (finished)
The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (finished)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (finished)
The Giver by Lois Lowry (finished)
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry (finished)
Messenger by Lois Lowry (finished)
East by Edith Pattou (in process)
River Secrets by Shannon Hale (to be read)
A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle (to be read)
A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle (to be read)
Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle (to be read)
An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L'Engle (to be read)
Twilight by Stephenie Myer (to be read)
New Moon by Stephenie Myer (to be read)
Summerland by Michael Chabon (to be read)
Harry Potter books (re-reading in preparation for the new one!)

I guess I should take some time out and write some comments about the books I've read, but I'm having way too much fun staying up at night and reading under the covers with a flashlight! Isn't that what summer's for??


  1. It is so hard. There are so many books that I'm being told about that look great, but I know I will not be able to get to them all before school starts!!!!! Oh, wicked irony!

    The YA all sounds terrific. I've read all the L'Engle and the Rowling but none of the others.

    I need a day stretching out machine!

  2. That's exactly what it is about's hopeful and who doesn't need a little hope. I just started Goose Girl (one chapter) and I'm loving it so far. Sad I have to put my reading on hold for studying.

    And thanks for your comment chez moi. It's amazing how far a little dose of encouragement and affirmation goes.

  3. That's the PERFECT summer! :) How did you like Gathering Blue? I loved The Giver, but I haven't ever gone on to read Gathering Blue? What's wrong with me? Tell me what you thought . . .

  4. Janssen,
    I really loved Gathering Blue and Messenger just as much as The Giver. They all have a common theme -- personal sacrifice for the common good. The main character in The Giver makes this sacrifice by leaving his community so that they might grow and have life again. The main character in Gathering Blue makes this sacrifice by staying with her community. The main character in Messenger makes this sacrifice by ... well, I can't tell you since it would spoil it! I encourage you to read the companion novels to The Giver -- they are all such wonderful stories. Just keep a box of tissues with you when you read Messenger.