The genre of Young Adult is meant for the reader’s ages of 12-18, and I always find it so interesting that most of the YA out today appeal to reader’s well past their 60's. I'm a self proclaimed YA addict and not just because it's the genre I write. There is something about YA, maybe it is the fact that I'm one of those eternal kids, who still watches cartoons and a good stroll down the toy aisle, but I don't think that’s all there is to the draw YA has for so many adults. You can't deny that today's YA isn't the same as 10 years ago (The Baby Sitters Club).
Why is that?
My theory is that YA is more mature and complex, because it’s reflected in today's teens. So who is the new 12-18 year olds and what are they like? I think knowing the answer to this could help any YA author write stories that not only appeal to, but depict real teens and their journey into adulthood.
Teens, in general, lead double lives.
There’s the depiction of innocence they play for their parents. You know the nice respectable kid doing homework at the kitchen table, but how many of us were that angelic behind closed doors or outside the house?
I cannot speak for everyone, but my own grade school experience was far from Disney. School, outside the classroom was its own society, maybe not as popular crowds and school bullies as television depicts, but there was a social order, and the worst part, social suicide. There were the have’s, the have not’s, hook ups, break ups, rumors, jealousy, and envy. This was before YouTube, cyber bullying, and sexts.
So what must today’s teens face in a 24 hour connected society, where your worst moments can be shared with the entire student population with a click of a button and live in cyberspace long after you’re gone? Pretty much the same thing, only in a more public arena. As they say there are no new stories, well there are no new dramas, just different ways of spinning it. What it does lend to YA today is higher stakes. It’s no longer melodramatic to feel like your life is over from one mistake at a party or note that fell into the wrong hands.
I think the most important thing to remember when tackling any subject is how you a ‘behind closed doors teen’ would react, rather than the one sitting in your classroom or at your kitchen table. One thing for sure, it makes for a hell of a drama.
I just love Pretty Little Liars!