I love YA books. I love them. Reading YA is not just a hobby, but a passion, so intense that I put hours into maintaining two blogs so I can talk about the genre.
But YA has not always been my category of choice. As a toddler I forced my mom to read picture books to me for hours on end, and as a kindergartner I started reading them to myself. After that, I graduated to easy readers that allowed me to rank my reading level in color-coded increments. I devoured series like American Girl, Goosebumps, and Nancy Drew, then scoured the middle-grade shelves at my local library, picking up anything that caught my eye. In seventh grade, YA started to bleed into my reading repertoire, and by my freshman year of high school, I was reading the genre almost exclusively.
My age has always dictated my reading habits. Now that I am 16 and a high school junior, I mostly read about fellow high school students between the ages of 14 and 18. And this makes me wonder—what if, when I become an adult, I lose interest in YA?
At first, the idea sounds ridiculous. YA is my favorite genre—it is versatile, focused on telling engaging stories, and full of intelligent authors with magical ways with words. Despite what YA scorners would have you believe, it is full of tales that can make you laugh, gaze at gorgeous writing, or change your life, no matter what age you are. Besides, look at all the YA readers over the age of 18. Adults make up more than 50 percent of YA book-buyers, and some of the most popular YA book bloggers do not fit into the YA demographic. These days, it is absolutely possible—common, even—to read teen books at any age.
However, one of my favorite things about YA is my ability to see pieces of myself in the characters; being the same age as them, I often share some of their issues. What is to say that, ten years from now, a character's struggle to keep up with the daily pressures of school or communicate with her parents will still resonate with me the way it does today? I hope to remember the emotions and experiences that entangle me right now, but fresher in my mind will be my shiny new adult life, suppressing some of my teenage memories. And while I have loved countless YA books not in spite of, but because of, the fact that the protagonist and I are complete opposites, I will miss encountering those occasional characters who make me think "you are me in fictional form."
This dilemma is especially pressing for me considering I want to work in publishing. What if I spend all four years of college blogging and making contacts in the YA book industry, only to realize after graduation that I would rather read adult novels? For the past two years, I have pictured myself working in YA publishing, but in two more years, my career goal could look different.
I pondered this "Will I always read YA?" question when choosing my blog name. I knew I would always be a reader, hence the "forever." But since I was unsure what I would be reading, I followed the "forever" with a broad term encompassing every genre of literature.
Now, when I think about my blog name, I try to focus on its first word. My reading future may be uncertain, but I will be reading something, just like I have my entire life. My habits may change, but the underlying passion will remain the same. That, more than any individual novel, or even any individual genre, is what matters in the grand course of my life.
Teenage YA readers: do you ever worry you will lose interest in teen fiction? Adult YA readers: tell me about your experience with YA. Do you ever struggle to connect because of your age?