Friday, January 13, 2012

Why Are So Many People Reading Young Adult Novels?

When I began writing my YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, I had a character in mind and a glimmer of a story. By the time I had finished it the story had increased and my character had grown. When I got to the end of my story I cried. Then every time I read that ending I cried. Though it appealed to me I wondered if anyone else would enjoy this story.

Oh, I had been critiqued and beta readers had told me how much they enjoyed it, but there is nothing like getting the reaction of real honest to goodness readers who have bought your book. They don't know you and they know nothing about the story. These readers are the reason I began to write. I wanted to tell a story and I wanted people to read it. The story is a combination of my own life and my daughter's life.

So when I got my first reviews after the book was published I was surprised that my book not only appealed to the age group for which I wrote it, but a lot of older women enjoyed reading it. I was really surprised when the men in my family enjoyed reading it. I gave it to my husband and he said he read it almost non-stop. My own brother who only reads occasionally and then only adventure and nonfiction books, loved it! One of my niece's friends who is in her twenties told me she read the first chapter and wanted to read more. So I started wondering why my book appealed to so many people.

My feeling is many people identify with the angst and chaos of being in high school and the feelings of being an adolescent. Reading about the experiences of my main character, who is bullied and then has to keep her bully's secret in order to become popular, hit a note of familiarity for everyone who has read it. Many people told me it brought them back to their own high school days. The situations were very familiar for some of my readers.

I have enjoyed reading a lot of young adult novels, since I decided I would write for this age, and I also enjoy reading about the experiences of teens and how they solve them. Teen aged problems are usually solved by the end of the book and they result, most of the time, in the character finding a better life for him or herself. Not all adult novels end like that. There is a sense of closure for most YA books at the end. Rarely do I finish an adult novel with that same feeling of closure. I have read through many novels only to come to the end and go, "Huh?" YA authors know their readers need that complete ending and that may be the reason so many people are now reading YA.

In my novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Carolyn Samuels doesn't feel good about her body. She has been bullied by Jennifer Taylor, a girl who seems perfect in all ways with a great body and plans to be in the Olympics, but Jennifer has a terrible secret. Carolyn finds out about it and has to keep this secret or she will go back to being bullied and have no chance of becoming a cheerleader and being popular. Carolyn thinks she needs to change and be more like Jennifer, so she envies Jennifer. Adding to this, Carolyn has a crush on Brad Morrow, Jennifer's hot Junior quarterback boyfriend. What is a girl to do?

What makes YA so addictive to read? Maybe it's that the characters are teens and react to everything in their lives in a way most of us have forgotten. Things are blown out of proportion and you get caught up in this volatile world and remember when you walked the hallways of your own high school and you dealt with the people who you hoped would ignore you. Even if you were popular one of the stories in a YA book will have you identifying with it. YA books are like peanuts. Once you read one you are going to want to read another. How many people wouldn't want to find out what happens to a girl who is being blackmailed and forced to be friendly with the girl who bullied her?

You can find If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor in the MuseItUp Bookstore, Amazon for Kindle and as a paperback, on Barnes and Noble for Nook and paperback. Now go out and pick up a YA novel and see for yourself how much fun they are to read.:)


Kim Baccellia said...

I kind of stumbled into writing YA. I guess it was only logical considering I was a bilingual teacher and was around the targeted audience. My character Lupe came from an experience I had in my own classroom.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading Y/A as well as adult. Brings back memories for one thing. Some good, some not so good.

Charlie said...

Wonderful post Barbara. It is wonderful to see how people react to your characters and it sounds like they're responding to yours just wonderfully. I'm so happy for you. Great book.
C.K. Volnek

Unknown said...

I read mainly YA novels. Used to read adult novels...I write them. But I enjoy YA novels, as well. I can't really pinpoint a reason. Other than a good plot. I'll read (almost) anything if it has a good story line.

I'm currently writing my second YA novel. I find they are fun to write, there are so many possibilities!

Concilium, July 2012

Elle said...

I think it comes down to a great story. A great deal of the credit must go to J. K. Rowling who demonstrated the power of a great YA series and that adults enjoyed her work equally if not more.


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great post, Barbara. I love readign YA novels - they do remind me of what it wa slike to be a teenager. I'm in the middle of 'If I Could be Like JT' at the moment and really enjoying it!

gail roughton branan said...

Said it before and I'll say it again. I wouldn't be a teenager again for any amount of money! Once was quite enough, thank you.

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

Judging from everyone's comments here I seem to have captured the reasons why people read YA. Thank you all for the personal reasons you read and write YA.

Rosemary, I hope you continue enjoying my book and you will put a review up when you are done.:)

Kim, rodow82, Charlie, Michelle,Rosemary,Ella and Gail, we are all on the same page. Thank you all for visiting.

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