(Young) Adult Literature | Pemberley Ramblings

It is late Thursday night, and fans are lined up outside the local movie theatre in Hogwarts robes and House ties. Teens and adults alike run around with wands in hand, Harry Potter glasses over their eyes, and lightening shaped scars etched with eyeshadow and costume makeup on their foreheads. It is the release day of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the first Harry Potter-world installment since the release of Deathly Hollows Part 2 in 2011.

When the first Harry Potter books came out, many of the adults who now line the theatre waiting, were children or teens who stayed up late into the night reading, for the first of many times, a book about a boy with magic. Now, they are adults with jobs, rent, relationships, children of their own. They took the lessons from the Harry Potter books that they read religiously as children and applied them to their adult lives. They loved and lost and hoped and doubted, just like Harry and his friends. They learned that happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.

Harry Potter is, at its core, a book for children and young adults. It was written, marketed, and sold for children. Yet, to this day, adults continue to read, and often reread, these books. This is a phenomenon that extends past Harry Potter, however, and to the growing genre it inspired: Young Adult (YA) literature.

This genre has grown exponentially since the early years of Harry Potter. Often people associate this genre with bildungsromans and sickly sweet romances set in dystopian fantasy worlds. Most know or have at least heard of the genre’s most popular franchises: The Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent, Percy Jackson, The Fault in Our Stars. All of these have been on the New York Times Best Sellers list, all have been made into movies, and all have been enjoyed not only by teens, but by adults. In fact, one study by Bowker Market Research shows that at least 55% of young adult novels are purchased by adults and that 78% of these purchases are intended for adult recipients or the adult buyer themselves.

There is controversy around this, however, as many argue that adults who read these books are merely numbing their minds by reading stories that do not matter and that are made simply for escape and not for critical thinking. Others argue that young adult literature holds something special in it that adult literature misses, that young adult literature should be respected just the same. This topic has been covered by The Guardian, Slate Magazine, NPR, and The Washington Post, among others. With the growth of YA literature has come an influx of interest in the adults who read it.

Stacey Cooper, a middle-aged mother of two young adults, has been reading young adult literature since the days of Twilight. She often asks her daughter and her daughter’s friends for book recommendations, swapping books with them when her daughter’s friends spend the night. When asked why she loves YA literature so much, she said, “They are often adventure stories told from a young and uncynical point of view. They are full of hope and energy.” For Stacey YA literature is a youthful look at the world, a refreshing viewpoint that is nice to be reminded of as an adult. In defense of those who read YA literature, Stacey says, “Well written and interesting material is to be respected no matter the genre. I pity those who put themselves into a box.”

Multiple YA authors voiced their agreement when I asked them about the topic on Twitter. When asked about the shaming of adults who read YA literature, and even just the shaming of YA literature in general, Rae Carson, the author of YA novel The Girl of Fire and Thorns, argued, “Real grownups don’t let other people tell them what to read.” Stacey Cooper is a good example of this, as she embraces her YA reading with an unashamed fervor.

The Twitter conversation turned to something deeper when Martha Brockenbrough, author of YA novel The Game of Love and Death, shared her feminist viewpoint: “It’s because we privilege older people, white people, and men especially. [YA literature is] seen as a “girl” thing. The truth is, it can drive popular culture and there’s nothing tha[t] enrages old people more.” When asked about male YA authors, Brockenbrough said, “They don’t shame [men] and often reward them, as if it’s ‘noble’ or ‘rare’ that men are writing for young readers. Smells like misogyny.” Leigh Bardugo, author of New York Times bestselling YA series The Grisha Trilogy, agreed with Brockenbrough, and even tied the topic to larger world issues, saying, “People always get freaked out when women and girls control market share. So they try to undermine and infantilize.”

These comments sparked a number of likes from book bloggers, publishers, and YA readers alike. It is interesting to note how many of those who followed the conversation were women; in fact, at the time I write this, all of them were women. All seem to be pointing to a larger societal issue taking place, one that involves not just YA literature, but the ways in which the patriarchy still controls women’s workplaces. This is a problem that thrives in many female-heavy fields, like nursing, teaching, and the like; fields often, as Bardugo states, that are undermined and infantilized.

When I went and looked at this week’s (5/14/17) New York Times Best Sellers list, I discovered that these YA authors have a valid point. The Hardcover Fiction list consists of fifteen novels written by ten men and five women, while the Young Adult Hardcover list consists of ten novels written by eight women and two men. From women taking up merely thirty percent of the adult list, to eighty percent of the YA list, Brockenbrough and Bardugo seem to be on to something important when it comes to the way our society puts down YA literature and the women who write and read it.

A majority of complaints about young adult literature are about the lack of importance and significance in the genre. Perhaps, as Brockenbrough and Bardugo say, the writing off of all YA literature as insignificant does have something to do with the many women who write in and lead the genre, especially when one considers how unprecedented the complaints about YA literature are. The New York Times Best Sellers Young Adult Hardcover list currently consists of many significant and important books not just for the current generation of teens, but for all, of any age, who read them. The Hate U Give, currently number one on the list, is a novel inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement that follows a young girl’s life after seeing her unarmed friend shot and killed by a policeman. This Is Where It Ends, number five on the list, is a novel about a school shooting. The Sun is Also A Star, number eight on the list, explores race, immigrant life, and first love by exploring the life of a Jamaican girl who falls in love with a Korean boy the day before she and her family are deported. These novels, all written by women, are what Young Adult literature consists of, but are often written off as novels without depth or significance despite their striking and beautiful handling of such hefty subjects.

All published literature has its good and bad. Young Adult literature gave us Twilight, yes, but it also gave us the novels mentioned above. Just like literature marketed for adults, there is a wide range of works in the young adult genre. Bookstores across the country had Fifty Shades of Grey shelved right next to some of the best literary pieces of the early twenty-first century. This is not to say that those drawn to Fifty Shades of Grey or Twilight should be judged or shamed. As has been said, people should read what they want, without being shamed. This is to say, however, that there is a difference in the way people talk about YA literature and literature marketed for adults. One is summed up as a whole as cheesy, childish, and unimportant, while the other allows for books to stand on their own and not come to represent an entire genre.

Young adult literature has a history of change-making; often, it is important to note, this change has come from women authors like Le Guin, Blume, Lowry, and Rowling. Young adult literature has been, for the last century, pushing limits, creating narratives that have shaped and influenced the lives of children, teens, and adults, making social commentary on the most relevant of issues in poignant and explorative ways. The genre has been criticized and diminished by many who have read little of the genre’s best, if any, of its works, yet readers of young adult literature keep reading. They keep lining the halls of movie theatres in Hogwarts robes. With every book they pick up, YA readers continue to tackle and engage hard issues. Despite the criticism, despite the shame many want to place on them, YA literature has and will continue to grow its audience to any who are open and willing to read it.

Note: This is a literary reportage piece I wrote for a creative nonfiction class.

“Waiting On” Wednesday #5

new2bwow

“Waiting On” Wednesdays was started by Breaking the Spine and encourages bloggers to share the yet to be released books they are most excited for. Here is this week’s book:

 

28145767

 

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor 

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Strange the Dreamer is the story of:

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

Why I’m Excited For This Release:

  • This cover is stunning. I mean, come on. Who doesn’t want this on their shelves?!
  • Laini Taylor amazed me with her Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I can’t wait to read more by her! Her writing is just so, so, so, beautiful and unique.
  • The description of this book is so vague and mysterious that I am instantly drawn in and wanting to learn more. I honestly can’t wait to find out!
  • There’s already been a bunch of hype around this book, which is crazy, because its still months away!

“Waiting On” Wednesday #4

new2bwow

“Waiting On” Wednesdays was started by Breaking the Spine and encourages bloggers to share the yet to be released books they are most excited for. Here is this week’s book:

 

 

The Song Rising (The Bone Season #3) by Samantha Shannon

28260402

Release Date: March 7, 2017

The hotly anticipated third book in the bestselling Bone Season series – a ground-breaking, dystopian fantasy of extraordinary imagination

Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…

Why I’m Excited For This Release:

  • I just finished reading The Mime Order (Book #2) a few weeks ago, and I loved it, so I’m looking forward to continuing on with the series.
  • This series is brilliantly written and plotted. There are supposed to be like 7 books in this series, and I have no doubt Shannon is going to amaze with all of them.
  • I love Paige as a protagonist, so I’m really excited to see where she goes next and how she deals with the responsibilities that come with her new position of power.

Review: The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

28763485

Title: The Sun Is Also A Star

Author: Nicola Yoon

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: November 1, 2016 

Pages: 384

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

 Things I Loved:

  • I was a little weary of this book, because it has been pretty hyped since its release. I was not disappointed, though. It so lived up to all the hype, and I can honestly say it far exceeded my expectations.
  • The characters were complex and interesting to read about. They had multiple layers that made the reading experience into a challenge to find all of these layers.
  • Yoon dives deep into supporting characters as well, giving some of them their own chapter sections. Not only are they interesting, but they add to the story in important ways, too.
  • I was wary of this being a book solely about “insta-love,” which… it is, but it isn’t. Yes, the characters meet and fall in love in one day, something I usually can’t stand reading, but Yoon takes it and makes it believable. She folds out the day to make it longer, and in the end she makes you want to believe in love at first sight.
  • I was so scared of how this book would end, but Yoon pulled it off beautifully. The end was worth every second of fear.
  • Yoon’s writing is phenomenal in this book. I loved her book Everything, Everything, but I wasn’t wowed by her writing in that book. There were snippets of absolute beauty there, but you can tell that Yoon really took the time and effort to pour herself into the writing in this book. It’s stunningly beautiful.
  • The diversity! So much diversity! A Jamaican girl protagonist and her family, and a Korean boy protagonist and his family, and its just all so well done. Yoon took a close look at culture, history, identity, immigration, racism, and a lot more, and she does it so, so well.

Things I Disliked:

  • Nothing. This book was beautiful, magical, and so worth picking up and reading.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Cups of Tea

c6a8c-screen2bshot2b2015-04-222bat2b11-55-022bam

Being an English Major and a YA Reader | Pemberley Ramblings

I was never ashamed of my love for YA literature until I entered college as an English major.

In high school, I was one of the few students in my school who read on a regular basis, let alone enough to make the teachers lecture me on why I cannot read in class. So, anything I read was okay. I was reading, and reading a lot, so no one but me wanted to judge what I read. Or, if they were judging, they were keeping their opinion to themselves.

Then, I got to college. Becoming an English major was an easy decision. I was an avid reader, a creative writer, and an all-around bibliophile. English was the only thing for me.

In the midst of the crazy amount of reading I had for classes, I still found some time, however limited, to read the books I was interested. Most of the time this means YA literature. I remember the first time I went to a holiday party for the English department, and everyone was talking about how they were hoping to catch up on some reading over winter break. Most were reading classics or the newest literary release. Someone asked me what I was planning on reading, and when I told them the name of the YA books I had waiting on my shelves at home, they stared at me in confusion.

I quickly added, “They’re just some YA books I have lying around. I just wanted some light reading for break.”

“What’s YA?” one of them asked me.

“Young Adult literature.”

“Oh.”

With this, they nodded and kept talking about the books they would be reading.

I didn’t mention the YA books that I loved for a long time after that. Whenever I did bring them up, usually with friends and people I trusted, the conversation often went towards how they didn’t like YA literature, as if it is all the same.

It took me a long time of sitting with these thoughts and interactions to realize that the shame I so often felt for reading YA literature was ridiculous. I remember one interaction in particular, when I had just had enough, and when a professor asked me what I was reading, I told them the title of the book, and upon their confused look, I said, “It’s a YA novel. YA literature is kind of my thing.”

With this, I had claimed it as my own. There was no judgment they could put on me, because I had embraced it. To my surprise, this actually elicited a genuine interest in my interest in YA. I then got to talk to them about why I loved it so much, why it meant so much to me and to others, and the community that was built around YA literature. It was a great conversation, and since then, I’ve had many more like it, all because I chose to embrace it as part of my reading identity instead of shying away from it.

Sometimes, I can tell that fellow English majors still judge my reading choices, but since I’ve decided to embrace my reading choices, I have actually found more English majors who also enjoy YA literature, who often tell me they have felt the same way and also kept quiet about their reading habits because they felt others judging them.

So, fellow English majors and fellow YA readers, embrace your reading choices, whatever they may be. And for the love of god, do not judge what others read. Its their life, let them read what they damn well please.

Until next time,

Your Pemberley Reader

Review: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

20308537 Title: The Game of Love and Death 

Author: Martha Brockenbrough

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

Release Date: April 28, 2015 

Pages: 352

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now… Henry and Flora.

For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.

Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured—a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget.

Things I Loved:

  • The characters in this story and wonderfully written. Each one is complex and dynamic, with flaws and fears, but with exquisite wants and needs that drive them.
  • The plot had some twists I was not expecting.
  • The entire concept, to me, was so intriguing. The way that Love and Death, as characters themselves, each played into the story was surprising and cool.
  • Diversity win! Characters of color, LGBTQ+ characters! Seriously, read this if you’re looking for some diversity in your YA.

Things I Disliked:

  • Honestly, nothing. I loved this book. It was beautiful, moving, and so, so magical.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Cups of Tea

screen-shot-2015-04-22-at-11-55-02-am

“Waiting On” Wednesday #3

new2bwow

“Waiting On” Wednesdays was started by Breaking the Spine and encourages bloggers to share the yet to be released books they are most excited for. Here is this week’s book:

 

 

30312860Always and Forever, Love Lara Jean (To All The Boy’s I’ve Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han

Release Date: May 26, 2017

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Why I’m Excited For This Release:

  • The fact that there is even going to be a third book has me excited! At first we were only getting two, now there’s another one!
  • Lara Jean is one of my favorite protagonists, and I want to see where she ends up after high school.
  • These covers are going to look so wonderful on my shelves! (And all three are the same! Imagine that -.-)
  • I just love this series, guys. It is so much deeper and more wonderful than you might think, and it’s really worth reading.

 

Review: Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

24033058Title: Glitter

Author: Aprilynne Pike

Publisher: Random House Books

Release Date: October 25, 2016

Pages: 384

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison.

When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.

Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.
But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take.

 Things I Loved:

  • First of all, can we talk about how beautiful this cover is? I love it. I got this book at the library, but I think I may want to actually buy it so I can have it on my shelves! It’s so pretty!
  • The concept of this book is amazing, and the execution is flawless. This is such an interesting mix of the future and past, and the whole concept of the drug being Dani’s way out was just so intriguing to me. Pike’s imagination is brilliant.
  • The moral ambiguity of the entire drug operation. Moral ambiguity is my favorite, you guys.
  • The twists and turns in this book were all so well done. I didn’t see any of them coming!

Things I Disliked:

  • Dani was sometimes rather immature and annoying. Though, she herself acknowledges this at times. I disliked it now, but I’m hoping Pike is just setting up for some awesome character growth in the future.
  • The insta-love. I just… I don’t understand how it happened so, so quickly, but yet didn’t, but yet did. Let’s just say the main relationship was weird.
  • I wish Pike would have done more with the body issues that Dani has. She mentions it a good chunk of the novel, but always just sort of leaves it be. I’m hoping for this to be explored more in future novels and for Dani to deal with her problems. We will see, though.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Cups of Tea

e184e-screen2bshot2b2015-04-222bat2b11-54-432bam

Finding Solace in Art During Hard Times | Pemberley Ramblings

We can all agree that 2016 was a rough year. Between the election, a ton of celebrity deaths, and disasters happening world-wide, it was an incredibly awful year for so many. Throughout the year, though, I found myself coming back to the idea of art as solace.

In 2016. more than any other year recently, I found myself wanting to be more artistic. I wanted to find more new music than ever before. I wanted to try my hand at crafting. I wanted to see more movies and read more books.

On reflection of the year, I wondered why. Why was I so drawn to art in 2016?

I remember the week of the election specifically when thinking on this topic. I was taking a sociology class on gender when Donald Trump won the election, and the sadness and silence that permeated our classroom the morning after the election results was palpable. Earlier in the same week, one of my friends and co-workers had died in a car accident. Many of the people in my class knew and had lost her as well. It was one of the hardest weeks of 2016, and getting through it took a lot of hugs and a lot of tears.

As I mourned my friend and worried about the election, my anxiety became the worse it had been in months. It was then, though, that I began to rely most heavily on art.

I turned to books, burying myself in hours of reading and writing. In these worlds, I found faith and hope. I remembered that dark times are only dark for a little while, not forever.

I listened to music on my own and with friends, appreciating the upbeat songs that could still create a semblance of normalcy and bliss in the midst of such hard times.

There were times that week when my mental health was at the lowest point in months, but there were also times that week when I felt the most at peace. If 2016 was tough, I would be tougher. If people were treating others horribly, I would treat others well. If the world was falling apart, I would try in the smallest of ways to hold my small piece of it together.

I continued on, as you have to do, but because of art, I continued on, determined that there was more to this world that the horrible things that happen in it. There are good things, and art, above all else, is a reminder of this.

Until next time,

Your Pemberley Reader

 

Review: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

23203106Title: Wink Poppy Midnight

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke

Publisher: Dial Books

Release Date: March 22, 2016

Pages: 247

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

Things I Loved: 

  • Flawed characters are the best characters, and Tucholke’s characters have some deep flaws. This made for great reading and a wonderful,interesting story.
  • It was strange. Some books can’t pull of strange, but this one does for sure. It is curious, magical, and mysterious until the very last page.
  • When I found out “What really happened?” I was genuinely shocked. It made sense, though, so I appreciated that the “twist” at the end of this book was not unreasonable.
  • Poppy was reminiscent of Liz Emerson from Falling into Place by Amy Zhang (one of my favorite books). Tucholke handled, shaped, and finally let loose an extraordinary character here.

Things I Disliked:

  • Midnight was so freaking annoying. Though he finally does get a grip on his life, I felt like it was long, long overdue.
  • The insta-love between Midnight and Wink. Calm down, you two. Please.
  • Though I did love the stranger aspects of this novel, sometimes it was just too strange. It was hard to piece together what the mystical elements had to do with the rest of the story at times.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Cups of Tea

e184e-screen2bshot2b2015-04-222bat2b11-54-432bam