As a Middle School Language Arts teacher, I am constantly surrounded by books aimed for students ages 12-17…thus my books of choice tend to be those that my student’s have read. It serves a dual purpose: I can have relative conversations with my students and I just really like how some YA novels are written. When I was in High School, my favorite author was Sarah Dessen and even today if one of her books was placed into my hands I would read it in one sitting. Some authors just GET how life is during those adolescent years and I appreciate that ability – both professionally and personally.
As a writer, I want to write stories that reach that demographic. Every now and then I write for audiences that would fall into the 18-25 range, but I still go back to those books that really made me think during my teen years that someone got it, someone wasn’t afraid to talk about the complicated issues that happen in high school all the time. Sarah Dessen was one of those authors who used her stories talk about the hard realities that some teenagers go through – like parental divorce, teenage pregnancy, and trying to fit in when you really don’t know who you want to be.
This being said, sometimes its hard to explain why a 26 year old has a bookshelf full of stores like Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs when the shelves probably should be filled with books by Nora Roberts or E.L.James. Now I do have SOME books by Nora Roberts – I read “The Bridal Quartet” series before I got marriage and LOVED them – but when I walk into Barnes and Noble I make a beeline for the Young Adult section.
So back to the awkward conversation when a fellow adult asks what books I’ve read and I rattle off “The Maze Runner” series or Fallen by Lauren Kate and then get returned with raised eyebrows, I feel obligated to follow up with “Oh I am a Middle School Language Arts teacher”. But in truth, I just really like Young Adult novels. Doesn’t matter that I’m not an angsty teenager who just got dumped by my boyfriend and now I have no date to Homecoming. I will probably still enjoy reading them when I am much older and have my own kids in Middle School and High School. Reading the genre that I like to write in – makes me a better writer! Plain and simple. It keeps me current with what my audience is interested in reading.
I am an Adult stuck in a Young Adult world…and I OWN it!
~ C.M.Hays and The Wordwraiths