As a scholar of young adult literature, and it being my future profession, the general portrayal of this genre really irritates me, especially about its inaccuracies. People brush it off as “not as good” as the classic literature, not worthy of study, something I’ve especially noted from other English majors. I feel I get judged when I tell someone I’m studying children’s and young adult literature, because it’s not as prestigious as something like world literature, American literature, or British literature. It’s not as “complex.”
However, the reality is young adult literature, while mostly portrayed as romantic paranormal romance (especially in large chain bookstores like Barnes and Noble and in movie adaptations of the books, deals with many different complex and difficult issues, because that stage of life is complex and difficult in and of itself. Young adult novels deal with things like depression, anxiety, suicide, sickness, homosexuality, rape, mental disorders (to an extent), and many others. It’s not just about the romance. Is that a large aspect of the young adult genre? Yes. It’s a large aspect of young adulthood in general. But this doesn’t represent the genre as a whole. There are many different faces of young adult literature that are worth analyzing and looking at.
Literature is one of the most powerful avenues for teens to realize they are not alone, by seeing themselves portrayed in the literature. Literature can create communities, it can connect teens with other teens who are going through the same things. Those that brush it off as something trivial and not worth looking at are missing a lot. Young adult literature is a continuously growing field, one that can only get better from here. So the next time you brush off a book because it’s classified as young adult, think again. You could be missing out on some great literature.