I have been a loyal follower of Young Adult (YA) literature since the age of 11, making that 8 years spent reading new releases, bestselling series, and debuts that make up this genre. It’s been fun to watch as this overarching genre has bloomed and transformed over my own years of interest into one that is diverse and unique.
As I have followed the YA scene over an eight-year span, I’ve gotten to watch this once small genre grow and develop into what it is today. The world of Young Adult literature has come a long way since I picked up my first novel way back at the start of middle school. The young adult genre itself used to almost solely be comprised of utopic fiction and sappy romances. However, over the years, new and old minds have branched out and brought fresh stories and ideas to the table. The once simple genre has become complex. We went from dystopian and love stories to books a part of a wider range of genres. YA now includes stories from genres such as fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary, speculative fiction, sci-fi, mystery, and many others. Especially in the past few years, YA has become more diverse on topics such as race, culture, and religion have become more prominent. Authors are now expanding even more and sharing stories based on who they are, how they grew up, and what they believe. Young Adult literature has definitely gained a more noticeable, personal side as authors are sharing from their heart and own life experience.
As a young adult, who has been a part of the YA scene for a while, I am proud of how far it’s come. I’m beyond proud of the authors who sought to reach this particular audience with their stories. This generation is eager to make a difference and be innovative. The stories that are being aimed at young adults today are causing movements and affecting change all over the world. These authors (who are generally older than YA age) are sharing their stories, which each hold their own nugget of wisdom, truth, and perspective. They are passing on the lessons they’ve learned through the characters they create and world’s they build. Their words challenge this generation to expand and explore.
Personally, Young Adult literature has challenged me to learn more about the world and those that live in it. I have learned a lot from traveling, but before I traveled, stories of history and culture introduced me to all this world has to offer. Most recently, the expanding diversity of the YA genre has challenged me to accept and learn from other cultures and people of various backgrounds. Overall, I am quite happy with the stance Young Adult literature holds in the reading and publishing community. And I greatly anticipate the direction it’s headed.
As YA moves forward, there are few things I would like to see become more prominent in the genre. As is happening now, I would love to see a continuation in the growth of diversity. We are now seeing books published on varying cultures, religions, and other topics. It’s great to see the many voices of those all over the world being presented and heard. Personally, I would love to see some more books on Native American culture and Christianity, as those two topics relate to my own history and beliefs. What aspects of society, culture, religion, etc… would you like to see voiced and established in the Young Adult community?
Along with this growth in diversity, I would also love to see more recognition of young authors. Young Adults writing for Young Adults per se. If this genre is for those of today’s generation then shouldn’t we be hearing from those that make up that generation? Now, don’t get me wrong. All of the authors writing YA lit out there are amazing. Like I mentioned before, they present a wealth of wisdom and advice through their work. I just think we should be encouraging and supporting young writers to share their own thoughts and stories as well. I know of many young writers out there who are passionate and have something worth saying. Just as the older generation can inspire from lessons learned, we young adults can inspire from lessons being learned.
Michaela is eighteen-years-old and passionate about taking Christ’s name to every corner of the world. She is an aspiring writer and avid reader, documenting her life on her blog MichaelaJoy. On any given day, no matter the time or place, you will spot her with coffee and/or a book in hand. She is currently abroad in England serving with Youth With a Mission.