Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Guest Blogging Post

Today on our Guest Blog segment, we have the lovely Regan Leigh.

Why Adult Women Connect with Young Adult Books

It's been obvious for a while that young adult books don't just appeal to teens. Adults are often seen reading and discussing young adult books -- and it's not just adult YA writers. ;)

I was thinking about this recently in terms of why YA books specifically connect so well with adult women. Why do we want to read about teenage girls when so many of us would never want to return to that confusing and sometimes painful period in our lives? What do adult women get out of teen angst and high school settings and how do they relate to teen girls today? Better yet, what do we -- the collective adult female writers -- feel we can share with today's teens? I'll list a few answers that came to mind for me.

- Why do we want to read about teenage girls?

1) We've been there. We know what girls that age are experiencing, which makes it easier to connect with the main character and root for them from the beginning.

2) It's always fun to read from a perspective of a character that does things far differently than we did as a teen. It's like reliving that age and testing new limits without actually having to do it ourselves.

3) Escapism. Have adult responsibilities you need to take care of? Bah. Take a break for an hour and go back to a time where there were no bills, taxes, jobs, or crying children. (At least not our own. ;))

- What do adult women get out of teen angst and high school settings and how do they relate to teen girls today?

1) Water cooler, anyone? Work settings are often just an older version of a high school situation. Cliques are formed, outfits picked apart, and friend building hierarchies can even effect your promotions and job status. (Well, I personally don't work in this type of setting, but I have many friends that do.) We still know what it's like to get THE look from another woman, sizing us up with their eyes in a way that makes us self-conscious or angry.

2) Sometimes we actually -- gasp -- enjoyed that time period of our life. Reading YA can bring back funny or bittersweet moments in seconds. The associations can be almost as insightful as a high school reunion. But more enjoyable. ;)

3) What do we have in common with teen girls today? Acne. Periods. Fights with friends. Family stress. (Um, I could go on. Sorry you younger gals, but those things still exist past 18. ;))

- Better yet, what can we -- the collective adult female writers -- share with today's teens?

*I think these answers are very individual for each writer, but I'll give my two cents.*

1) Hope. :D There is life after the crazy and exhausting teen years and there are so many things young girls have to look forward to.

2) A positive female example. I'm not a writer who insists books have to teach a lesson, but be cognizant of the example you may be giving without even realizing it. And why not try and create a character or situation that can inspire or strengthen?

3) Understanding. The biggest help you can give anyone is to show a willingness and desire to know and understand them. Be authentic and real in your writing. Show the reader you care about their lives and struggles. Show them you get it and that they aren't alone.

So what do you think? Care to weigh in on these thoughts I've been having while dodging my work in progress edits? ;)


Krista Ashe said...

I've been wondering about this a lot lately. For a minute, I start to feel like there's something wrong with me for wanting to read all YA. Sure, I'm only writing YA, but at the same time, it starts to gnaw at you like, "Hmm, am I trying to relive my teenage years?" "Am I immature?" "WHAT IS MY PROBLEM!"

I think you bring up a lot of great points. And YES, the adult world is not so far gone from the teenage world, so it's easy to slip back into that mode of feeling.

Great post and thanks for blogging with us!!!

Matthew Rush said...

Great points, great post! Thanks Krista and Regan.

J.S. Wood said...

Excellent post, Regan. Thanks so much for blogging with us!!

I think everything you said is so true.

Sarah Harian said...

Thanks for guest blogging, Regan. Fabulous post!

Regan Leigh said...

Thanks so much for letting me do the blog post! :)

Elena Solodow said...

I love her comment about "testing new limits". That's why I love YA too. Most people remember high school as a time when they were feeling isolated, confused, etc., so it's fun to have a novel that explores that. Makes you feel like you weren't alone after all.

Melanie said...

Great post! You hit so many things on the nose about why I love YA. Something very interesting that occurred to me is that through reading all these different stories, I get to see the life of teens that lived a very different life than me--through different eyes so to speak. The rich/popular girl, the girl who always got picked on, the one who suffered from something as horrible as rape or the one who lived this whole secret life full of abuse and sadness, but managed to put on a happy face around her peers. The heavy girl, the anorexic girl, and of course, I get to see all these experience of our youth through male eyes! Then of course there's all these experience coupled with the make believe/paranormal and the ideas, feeling and emotions are limitless.

Debra D. said...

Great post, Regan! I'm definitely an adult reader of YA fiction--in fact, it's pretty much all I read these days. Part of it is because of the reasons you stated, and another part is bc I just find YA much faster paced overall. With the kids, school, hubby, work, house, etc, I feel like I'm easily distracted. The great thing about YA is it usually plunges you right into the story and never slows down from there, doesn't pause for page after page of setting and description.

Thanks ladies, for an interesting topic!