Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Trouble with Adult YA Readers

I have a theory: More grownups read YA novels than teenagers.

I think it’s their way of reliving the glory days of youth: crushes, first kisses, self-discovery, friendship and, my personal favorite, freedom from the daily grind.

Not that the teenage years are all stuffed bears and cotton candy. Few of us have made it through unscathed – whether it be the abusive parent, financial hardships, psycho siblings, school tormenters and/or heartache.

The trouble arises when adults expect teen protagonists to act older than they are.

An indie friend recently complained that a one star reviewer called her main character shallow and self-involved. “Of course she’s shallow and self-involved,” she said. “She’s a teenager!”

I had to stop myself recently when I became frustrated with a stubborn character in a novel I was reading who couldn’t seem to figure out who she was or what she wanted.

Hello? Teenager alert!

I thought back to being 17… then promptly slammed that door shut.

The irony is, at that age I was reading Harlequin romance novels and couldn’t wait for the glory days of adulthood. 


  1. I agree with every single statement you've made here. It's like you read my mind about readerships! I too read Harlequin's when I was a teen. I subscribed to that book club thing where they automatically sent me trashy romance novels. It was ace! :)

  2. For me it was Barbara Cartlands... thankfully, though, I read far more classics than anything else--LOTS of Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens. Of course, so many of these classics are given to teens to read... as if they aren't useful to adults.

    But teens are such a great age! They are so full of angst, so frightened and brave at the same time, so passionate. Adults get pretty boring, and so many worry more about financial well-being than anything else. Or getting away with a crime. I love the idealism in YA novels. They are still what I read far more than anything else.

  3. Thanks for remembering the classics, Shakespeare. I forgot how much I loved them growing up. Jane Austen got me through freshman year!

    You're right though. I think of classics as teen reading, unfortunately. It's not often I pick up a classic any more. I did read "The Good Earth" a couple years ago and it's one of my new favorite books.

  4. I agree 100% with your post, too. From the ages of 9-14, I was Christopher Pike's biggest fan and owned every book he had. Once I started high school, I thought I was way too cool and mature to be reading books geared towards teenagers, and ended up reading the classics (the classics do include Bataille and de Sade, LOL).

    My personal favorite complaints from adults who read YA books is that the characters "make bad choices." Who doesn't make bad choices when they're teenagers?