Why You Shouldn’t be Ashamed of Loving YA fiction

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen and heard the following statements: “YA fiction is so trashy and cliché”; “Are you still reading YA fiction? Aren’t you a bit too old for that?” ; “When are you going to read something more serious?” etc. YA fiction is criticized more than any other genre or age range and so are its readers. Today I want to talk about why YA doesn’t deserve the hate it gets and why it’s okay to love YA fiction (even when you’re not a teen).

If you love reading YA fiction but you’re not a teen, you’ve had to deal with one of the following: 1) you’ve felt ashamed for enjoying YA books or 2) someone called you out for reading YA fiction and made you feel ashamed. Either way, shame seems to be tied to YA fiction. For the sake of this post, I’m going to ignore the fact that anyone can read what they pretty damn well please and look at the reasons why there’s absolutely no reason to feel ashamed.

The main criticism YA fiction has to deal with is related to content. We’ve all heard it before. YA fiction is full of clichés, it’s badly written, it doesn’t deal with any “serious” issues, it’s trashy, etc. This one is the easiest to counteract. Sure, there are plenty of YA books that aren’t exactly high quality, but the same thing can be said about adult fiction. I’ve read plenty of adult fiction I found absolutely terrible. But does that mean I swear off all adult books and think they’re all bad? No, of course not. Some are good, some are bad. No matter the age range.

Also related to content: “YA fiction doesn’t deal with any serious / real-life issues.”. It’s very clear that whoever uses this argument hasn’t read a great deal of YA books because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, there are plenty of YA books that are meant to be pure escapism (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) but there are just as many that deal with serious issues. Just think of all the YA books that discuss bullying, sexuality, racism, mental health, etc. Like The Hate U Give or History is All You Left Me, which are two of my all-time favourite books. These books discuss real life issues that real teenagers deal with outside of the fictional world so it’s absolutely necessary to have these books around. You can’t even begin to imagine how much difference a book can make in a person’s life.

Lastly, there’s the “Aren’t you too old for this?” and the answer is “Absolutely not”. YA fiction might be written for teenagers and young adults (approx. 14-18), but that doesn’t mean anyone else can’t enjoy it.

And, you know what? I love reading from the perspective of a teen. As a girl in her early twenties, I can relate to them a lot more than adults because I’m in that awkward not-a-teen-not-an-adult stage. You could argue that NA is perfect for people like me but I found that NA doesn’t appeal to me. At all. It’s a very new “genre” which means it’s going to take some time for it to take off and come into its own. When it does, maybe I’ll “switch” to NA.

Or maybe I won’t because there’s nothing wrong with reading YA when you’re not a teen. Some of the best books I’ve read are YA and, yes, I’ve read Hardy, Hemingway, Shakespeare, Woolf and all the rest of them. There was a time when I read nothing but classics (funnily enough, I read most of them when I was a teen), but, for now, I’m really enjoying YA and I’m not going to feel ashamed about it.

How do you feel about the hate surrounding YA fiction? Have / Do you ever feel ashamed for loving YA fiction?

22 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t be Ashamed of Loving YA fiction

  1. I agree with you completely, YA is receiving now the same treatment that romance has for years. I love reading YA, NA, and romance and it bothers me how people say that it’s trashy, silly, and crap. I can read what I like and you can easily find trashy and crappy books in every genre. I’m not a teenager and I still enjoy YA fantasy, some more than others but it has nothing to do with the targeted age.but with the content and if it’s an interesting story with great characters. We are entitled to like what we like regardless of other’s opinions.

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  2. Exactly! YA hate is so weird; I’ve read some YA that’s much, much deeper than adult fiction. I remember in eighth grade, I had an honors lit class and was called out for reading Harry Potter. I ended up bringing A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the school play I was in at the time) to class everyday to read, and she didn’t even notice. I got pretty tired of it by the end of the year.
    So, to my surprise, one of my teachers saw me reading Beastly Bones the other day, and I expected her to roll her eyes when she saw it. But instead, she was interested in reading it, especially when I told her it was fantasy, but used underrated fantasy creatures rather than vampires and werewolves. I was shocked! She told me she loves YA and even gave me recommendations.
    I’m also lucky to have parents who like that too. My mom even says that Harry Potter is still one of the best book series she’s ever read, and I convinced her to read I am the Messenger. 🙂 Sorry for the lengthy comment…

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  3. I’m not a teen and I read YA fiction – and proud!! Though I do have to admit that I probably don’t relate to some of them as much as I could have if I was younger, they remind me of a time when I was that age. These books remind me of certain people and events from my teens/20’s and that’s what I enjoy the most!

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  4. I agree with you completely. I think there is this weird judgment around YA and I don’t get it at all. I don’t feel much judgment from the book community, it’s more people in my ‘real’ life. People like older family members. I always get the ‘aren’t you too old for that?’ question. I just think that’s ridiculous. I mean, who decides when we’re too old for something, if I enjoy it then I’m gonna do it. I’ve read YA for as long as I can remember, I’m 20 now and I’ll continue to read YA for as long as I want. Great post ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! And, I agree. The negative comments usually come from people in real life. That’s one of the reasons why I love being part of the blogging community: you can find so many people who share the same ideas as you do and who read what they want to read, no matter what anybody says ❤

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  5. This is a great statement/argument; I totally agree with you! I must admit that I did have a time when I thought I should wean myself from reading YA books because I was a bit of afraid of what others might think of me. I would expect everyone would say, ‘Aren’t you a bit too old for YA books?’ and sneer at me. That said, as you mentioned, the claim that YA books don’t deal with any serious issues couldn’t be further from the truth! And such issues cut through my heart more directly than general fiction would do, if that makes any sense.
    I’ve always wondered why YA fiction and its readers have to be so harshly lashed out compared to children’s books and its readers? That wouldn’t be fair in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a great post! I am in my twenties and reading young adult books and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon, I love the genre so much and there are so many REAL things in young adult books. I love the characters, the relatable feelings, the struggles of identity and everything that are relatable at any age, really.

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