When you’re a grownup who spends an exorbitant amount of time reading and reviewing young adult novels and putting it out there for the whole world wide web to see, you’re certain to get asked one question time and time again:
“Why do you read books for teenagers?”
Most often, this is asked with an incredulous look, as if I’m slightly crazy for devoting so much time to this blog.
The most recent time around, it was one of my former HR managers who posed this question. My first thought when he told me he read my blog was: “Holy crap, did I post anything embarrassing this week?” Then, I prepared myself to give my stock response to the inevitable question. “So…why young adult books?”
“Well, I have made a pretty stellar career for myself, experienced some pretty ridiculous things, all because I’m a great reader and writer,” I said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t been encouraged from a young age to read everything I could get my hands on. I want to pay back into that by promoting reading, especially to younger readers.”
It’s true. And sometimes I feel this SO PASSIONATELY I could burst.
But recently I realized that it’s so much more than that, if I’m being honest with myself.
This week, I’ve been really down in the dumps about this blog. In a recent switch to WordPress, I lost almost all my followers. My hits are down. After putting a few years of work into this, it’s really disheartening to feel like I’ve got to build things from the ground up.
And I’m going to Book Expo America again this year, which is so insanely cool and I feel so blessed to be able to attend. It’s an unbelievable opportunity. But I also find myself getting jealous of other bloggers who are invited to a cocktail party I’m not invited to. Or, honestly, those who get really cool ARCs.
It’s really stupid, I know, because my blog rocks and I know I’m awesome and none of the crap REALLY matters and none of it is why I write this blog. Not even remotely. But I can’t help but to feel like the unpopular kid from time to time.
Which is what finally got me thinking: THIS IS WHY I READ YA.
Yeah, I’m a grownup and I’m married and I have a great career. But sometimes I still feel as insecure as I did at 16. I have to deal with bullies at work sometimes, and there were mean girls at my old job, and I fight with my best friends, and I want to be pretty, and I want the boy I love to do nice sweet things for me, and sometimes I make the wrong decisions and question what I’m doing with my life.
How YA is that? It’s been almost 10 years since I’ve been a teenager (ack!), but I’m still struggling with the same issues, just in different ways. And just as YA novels are meant to help teens through these things, they help me too.
The struggles you face as a teenager are amplified times 1,000, of course, because you’re a kid and you have ALL THE HORMONES and every little thing is a huge deal. YA books get this, and they’re AMPLIFIED too, which is what I love about them. The “lessons” are easier to digest, and as a busy adult, I sort of crave that. And, frankly, a lot of these doubts stem from my adolescence, so why not get transported back to the age when it all began?
I still do this because I believe in the importance of spreading excitement about books. But, let’s be honest, I’m getting more out of this than I give. So I’m going to try to be more grateful, more thoughtful. And the next time I’m feeling down in the dumps? I’m gonna turn to a good book.