YA Novels: A Turbulent Relationship
by Olivia Madreperla, Staff Contributor
I know for a fact that I am not the only one who ferociously tore through the Percy Jackson books in elementary school. I was proud to be a book nerd then. It meant that I could place myself above my peers because I read voluntarily, in any capacity. However, I am now a highschool student who will turn 18 in a matter of months. I am surrounded by intellectuals that read books like Naked Economics simply because they believe it to be “interesting”. I, unfortunately, am not so entertained by an obnoxiously long thesis regarding development economics. While I can respect those who appreciate such works, I am simply not one of those people. However, it was not for a lack of trying.
When I entered highschool, I decided it was time to address my age with an increase in, shall we say, sophistication. So, I began to gather as many literary classics as I deemed possible to read during my ever-shrinking leisure time. While my peers sat in cultish circles to discuss pivotal moments in popular culture, I couldn’t seem to get farther than three chapters into Great Expectations without contemplating burning it to hot ash. While some found The Scarlet Letter to be a thought-provoking piece of literary mastery, I stared at the cover of my freshly bought copy with a sense of impending doom as dread poured to the base of my stomach. As you can probably tell, that copy of The Scarlet Letter remains untouched upon my bookshelf along with several other classics that I had rounded up on sale from Barnes and Nobles.
It is not my intention to antagonize those who appreciate such delicate prose, but I am simply not the type of person to enjoy such complex allegory when I am trying to escape the tensions of highschool. So, in between phases of skimming the beginning chapters of Jane Eyre, I would secretly download young adult fiction onto my Kindle so no one would know that was what I was reading. Over the course of one beach vacation in Freshman year, I read eight YA novels. My mother was actually convinced my OCD had re-arisen in the form of obsessive literary consumption.
I was embarrassed that all I could seem to enjoy were these irrelevant young adult novels about dystopian societies or passionate teenage love stories. I felt as if I was below my peers for having such “unrefined” taste in literature. So, I kept my obsession closeted. When asked what my favorite book is, I would usually say The Great Gatsby which isn’t exactly a lie as I do love that book, but I have so many other favorites that I was too afraid to share because I thought I would be judged.
As I grew even older, passing swiftly through the bulk of highschool, I remained “in the closet” so to speak in regards to my passion for young adult fiction. I continued to power through novel after novel with an unrelenting fervor during my breaks from school. Honestly, if you look back through my kindle, you will see a WIDE variety of young adult fiction that would actually explain a lot of my personality for those of you who are familiar with my loud demeanor and seemingly infinite supply of energy.
However, this pandemic has made me realize something. For one, I totally misjudged my peers. They enjoy such literature just as much as I do. Second, I have learned that it really isn’t worth it to try and plow through a book you are just entirely uninterested in. Reading is supposed to be FUN. Reading is supposed to provide an outlet for those of us with overactive imaginations. It really doesn’t matter what you read because, to be honest, at least you are reading. Reading seems to be an uncommon form of leisure during these days over overactive thumbs and constant entertainment through a small, hypnotizing rectangle. Read what you want. Life is too short to waste time on The Scarlet Letter.