The Fordham Ram

Never Too Old for Young Adult Fiction

The Book Bratz received hundreds of write-ins concerning young adult novels. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The Book Bratz received hundreds of write-ins concerning young adult novels. (Courtesy of Twitter)


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By Jessica Cozzi

The concept of adults believing others should “act your age” and “read your age” is definitely nothing new for Young Adult readers anywhere.

I’ve been running a moderately-popular Young Adult review website, The Book Bratz, for quite a few years, and Fordham is not the first (or the last) place where people have looked down upon my reading choices, believing they are somehow more mature and worldly than I am because I’d rather not fall asleep from the boredom of reading Dickens.

After reading the From The Desk article a few weeks ago, I found myself saddened by yet another assumption on who YA readers should be and what the genre supposedly represents.

As someone that has been working in the publishing industry for nearly seven years, particularly focusing on Young Adult and New Adult stories, I found myself a bit taken aback by the hasty assumptions that were so quickly thrown around in the piece. I have built an entire website, online presence and career with major publishers from the ground up thanks to the YA genre.

There have always been plenty of snap judgements about who YA readers should be, how the plots are “poorly written ploys” and many of the popular works were “trashy” and “shallow.” Their depictions of YA weren’t of the world I had known and loved. But the article still had me doubting my love for the genre. Was I immature or unintelligent because I couldn’t stand to read classic novels? Or were older YA readers being categorized all wrong?

Rather than taking the article personally, I took to my blog’s Twitter account (which has only about 5.9K followers) and tweeted one simple question: “Do you read YA even though you’re 18+?”

I wasn’t prepared for what happened when I picked up my phone an hour later — over 100,000 people had seen, shared and responded to my tweet. It was going viral in the online book blogging, author and reader community. My DMs were overflowing with eager 18+ readers who wanted to share their opinions and have their voices heard — readers, teachers, librarians and even YA authors themselves.

Overwhelmed with the rush of mini Twitter fame, I opened my laptop and got to work — I asked everyone who reached out to email me a short blurb on why they still read YA even though they’re over the age of 18. I thought we’d only get a handful of emails back, and I planned on putting together a post on my blog where I could feature them. However, over 500 answers came in.

To me, YA is such an important factor of my life that I could never see myself living without. People are so quick to brush off teens as being whiny, dramatic and over reactive, but when you think about it, there’s nothing a teenager goes through that doesn’t also occur in adult life as well — heartbreaks, new relationships, friendships, loss, terror, fear or trying to find themselves. As someone past the age of eighteen, I can assure you that I definitely still feel all these things and more, even in my “adult” life — at Fordham particularly. YA is so important to me as a reader because it is constantly adapting, changing and diversifying for starters.

The other responses I received were just as important. One reader said that YA allowed her to dream again. Another said that YA tends to focus on universally important themes that don’t disappear as you grow up, such as finding yourself and grief and loss.

The point of the matter is that there are many varied reasons why people read YA — some logistical, some emotional and some just because they like it! The YA market is booming exponentially with diverse, hard-hitting, real stories. Maybe adult fiction sales aren’t suffering because readers are immature — maybe it’s because adult fiction needs to catch up on the diversity and emotional fronts.

Instead of being hurt by the sharp, pretentious judgements thrown toward YA readers, I actually find myself grateful for this particular instance. If “Act Your Age, Read Your Age” had never been published, I probably wouldn’t have been prompted to ask that question on Twitter. I wouldn’t have received over 2,000 messages from 18+ YA readers and authors all over the world.

And I definitely wouldn’t have been able to launch an entire new series on my YA book blog where we get to shine light on the voices of these older readers, all talking about why they read and love a genre that has been there for them since their childhood and will be there forevermore.

The fact of the matter is that nobody else has the right to be a gatekeeper on literature, no matter what our personal opinions on the subject may be. Don’t get me wrong — Atwood, Martel, Christie and Dickens are all monumental writers with incredible stories. But those who choose to pick up their books are not better or more intelligent than those who lean toward less pompous stories.

The best part of the book world is that everyone has a multitude of options to choose from — and nobody has the right to stand on a pedestal and lessen others’ intelligence or maturity because of it.

 

Jessica Cozzi, FCRH ’20, is an English major from Long Island, New York.

 

5 Comments

5 Responses to “Never Too Old for Young Adult Fiction”

  1. Nick on April 3rd, 2019 12:07 pm

    Jessica,
    This was a nice well written response to the “haters”. You are a positive role model for how ypund adults should respond to those who are negative.

  2. Cody DeBos on April 3rd, 2019 12:20 pm

    As a YA writer and reader (and proud adult) I 100% agree. Who cares what genre you read as long as you enjoy it? Unless you’re reaching for a textbook, reading should be about enjoyment and having a meaningful experience while you do.

  3. ReneeApril on April 3rd, 2019 4:17 pm

    Yess!! I found myself nodding in agreement with this entire post – SO glad you got such a massive response.

  4. Hailey Carter on April 3rd, 2019 5:41 pm

    This is seriously the best article. I’m turning 29 next month and always feel a little strange when walking out of a bookstore with a YA novel. I constantly feel like people think I’m too old to be reading it. It’s odd to feel self conscious about what I read. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy several adult novels too. In fact, I started out reading adult novels before I ever picked up the YA genre. But it’s nice to have an older (18+) community to address this with. I don’t feel like we should feel ashamed or embarrassed because we lean towards YA. It’s an important genre and it’s emotional, and makes you think. It also focuses on more themes than people think.

  5. Christine Zinser on April 4th, 2019 9:25 am

    52 years young and still occasionally reads YA. Let’s just look at some major motion pictures generated from Ya fiction. Hunger Games to name one.
    It’s also a wonderful way to bond with my daughter who is a YA reader herself, and do I dare say coming out of the age group soon also ?
    The best part of reading for me is being able to enter so many different wonderful places, genres and mindsets. If that lands a YA novel in my lap; all the better for me to have a new experience.

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Never Too Old for Young Adult Fiction