Lindsay is a 20 something single Austinian who blogs about everything from modesty and sick Mass fashion to the books she’s reading and the struggles of choosing between bar trivia or Bible study. She blogs over at Lindsay Loves and you should check her out immediately after reading this post.
I love to read. Anyone who meets me becomes rapidly aware of this. My mother claims that I taught myself how to read, and although I have not verified the legend, I choose to treat it like St. Christopher and accept it as true even if it is not factual.
I also love words and grammar. I have a master’s degree in English education. I used to use that to teach high school students; now I use it to amuse my coworkers in a construction company office. I enjoy words precisely because we use them to communicate stories. We study literature because it teaches us what it means to be human. That’s my motto. That and “teamwork makes the dream work.”
The kicker is that, although I have the ability to analyze classic literature and popular fiction for its messages and themes and to unpack symbolism and such… I usually don’t. I don’t really read books for grown-ups, and I don’t usually read classics at all, and I don’t choose books because they’ll make me think deeply. I read young adult fiction (YA), and I read it because I like it.
I am fortunate that YA for grown-ups has become mainstream. Forever Young Adult is based right in my current locale of Austin, Texas. I am a “YA for the not-so-Y A” hipster, though: I was into it before it was cool.
I usually summarize my love of YA by saying, “I like books about teenagers with problems.” But when I was catching up here at Super Swell Times, a blog I thoroughly enjoy but find myself chronically behind on, and Elizabeth mentioned her affinity for YA, I realized that my preference goes deeper.
I like YA because there is hope.
Now, I read a lot of YA dystopias (and I maintain my YA hipster claim because I loved The Giver, and that was out ages ago), but it’s not just about hope for the future. It’s about the virtue of hope. Hope is the gift from God that gives us a sense of trust. Humans can (and almost all will) let us down. God won’t. Humans make promises that they can’t always keep. God always keeps his promises.
In YA, there’s an underlying theme that things would be better for our characters if only they were adults. Friends wouldn’t stab them in the back, futures would be set, and they would be free to do whatever they wanted if only they were grown-ups. The structures set in place by the adults in the world around them are a major cause of their angst and those problems I like so much, so if they were the adults themselves, it would all be so much better.
As I become a grown-up, I know that to be completely untrue. Adults have the same problems. Many of them are worse. Not everything gets easier. The young will never listen to those admonishments, but the old will always know them to be true. Similarly, adult books are depressing. They begin in terrible situations and tend to get spectacularly worse before they end on a relatively high note.
I don’t need that kind of despondency in my pleasure reading. I prefer a world where there is at least a tacit hope for the future and a sense of trust that things will get better. That is why I read YA.
Well, that, and I am reassured that I’ll turn out okay because at least my young life wasn’t that bad.