There’re probably a ton of posts around the blogosphere in response to the article on Slate.com about how adults should be embarrassed to read YA books. But whatever, I’m still going to write my opinion here for whoever wants to read it. Be warned: it may be ranty, and possibly, sweary, because I am a little angry right now.
Before I start writing up my response to that article, let me start by saying that it is perfectly alright to have an opinion on anything. It’s your opinion, we’re not in a dystopian society (or not yet, at least), so you’re free to think whatever you want. That includes feeling embarrassed about the kinds of books you read, or the kinds of movies you watch, or — anything. I mean, I’d definitely feel embarrassed if someone caught me reading Fifty Shades of Gray, which I haven’t and don’t intend to read, but I would NEVER tell someone to feel ashamed if they were reading it.
Just during dinner today, my sisters, my grandma and I had a really interesting discussion about how everyone is different (we had a really deep and ranty talk; it was great). What does this mean? It means that everyone has different opinions, and many may even have opposing views to yours. Does this mean you should bash them up about it?
If your answer was yes, then this post is not for you. So gtfo, please.
You don’t bash them up about it, and you don’t make them feel ashamed. Which is exactly what this article is doing. So the author is embarrassed to be reading YA. Fine. But you don’t have to go and write up a whole post telling other adults that they, too, should be ashamed. And that bit at the end of the article? About Shailene Woodley saying she won’t be doing anymore teen films? I respect her opinion, but the way the writer puts it is like she is encouraging adults to go with the flow. Oh, look! More and more people are getting tired of YA. Even this celebrity is. So you should, too.
“But crucially, YA books present the teenage perspective in a fundamentally uncritical way. “
From what I’ve gathered, the author of this post is not only criticizing adults who read YA, but adults who write YA, despite writing earlier on that “there’s of course no shame in writing about teenagers.” She is saying that the authors of these books write about teens in an uncritical way, because after all, the majority of YA authors are adults who are older than 25.
Which leads me to another point: how is it possible for this article-writer to say that it’s okay for adults to write YA, but not okay for them to read it? Is there really a difference, besides the former spending hours and days and months and possibly years writing these books? And what saddens me further is the amount of support the writer has received in the comments. Commenters went so far to call those grown-ups “pedophiles” for reading about teenage romance.
“Is it not creepy that adults read romance novels written for and about teens?”
“Unless you’re reading it to be aware of what your children or students are reading, it’s always struck me as kind of creepy. As I recall, many YA books have romances and at least making out scenes. A 30 year-old enjoying reading about teens making out is kind of pedo-y.”
“Awesome #slatetroll – “Reading, You’re Doing it Wrong” – but I’m here to agree. If you’re an adult reading YA as fluff, rock on. If you’re reading it as “literature” – oh come on now. Get over yourself. It’s not. “
He got the troll part right, but again, whether it is literature or not is completely one’s opinion. (What is literature anyway? Anything that’s old enough to be your great-great-granddad? But that’s completely straying off the topic.)
Thankfully, I have not completely lost hope in humanity yet. There were also many brave souls who defended the YA genre valiantly:
“After reading the article, the one word that comes to mind is ignorance. To say we should be embarrassed or ashamed to read YA novels, only makes YOU sound stupid and foolish. Whether its Anne Boleyn, political science, or vampires…who really cares. The truth is no matter what the genre may be, its great to see people young and older passionate about these amazing stories, and wanting to read more, and wanting to share how the books made them feel.”
“Eh. Not everyone’s “sophistication” in reading enjoyment continues to develop past high school. Not everyone enjoys navigating complicated plot lines, symbolism, etc.
Reading is better than not reading. Read what you enjoy!”
I just want to state here that my grandmother has been an English teacher for more than thirty years. She’s taught English lit in school, and she’s giving English tuition classes even now. She coached me for my English literature IGCSE exam. She’s seventy-two, and I couldn’t be prouder. And guess what? She reads YA. All. The. Time. She barges into my room and asks for recommendations. She picks books from my huge YA bookshelf. She’s even read Twilight. I don’t see her dissing me for reading “trash,” or “juvenile fiction,” even when my dad tells me I should read something more meaningful.
But see? All these thoughts are subjective. Everyone has their own opinions, and everyone else should do their best to respect them. If you want to argue, go ahead. But do so civilly. Don’t try to dictate what others should think or feel. Please. If there’s something I’ve learned these past few years while being a book blogger and spending a lot more time on the internet, it’s that if you disagree with someone, don’t bash them up about it. I see it happening all the time. In comments on YouTube, on Goodreads, on articles such as this.
I’ve grown from being a very narrow-minded person, always determined to make people see my way of doing things, and then getting into petty arguments with them when they wouldn’t follow me, to someone who is hopefully more open-minded now. And though some may still consider me close-minded, I hope that this post will still hold some weight to what I’ve just said.
And one more thing? I’ll never grow embarrassed of reading YA fiction. Not even when I’m seventy. Just like my grandmama.
P.S. I welcome any and all disagreements.