Shevi: Hi, YA!
YA: (Continues to text on her phone, her face partially hidden behind her hair. She shrugs.)
Shevi: We’re here to set people straight about all the mistaken assumptions they have about you.
YA: (Pausing but not looking up from her phone) Yeah! People just don’t get me.
Shevi: I think most people know that YA stands for “Young Adult.”
YA: (Sighs and rolls her eyes) I don’t like being called that anymore. I’d rather be called “Teen.”
Shevi: Totally understandable, since that’s clearly what you are.
Shevi: Okay, so I think most people know that YA books are books with main characters who are between thirteen and seventeen years old.
YA: Yes, but we’re not all the same.
Shevi: Right! There’s younger YA, which is more for teens between thirteen and fifteen. And then there’s older YA, which is more for teens between sixteen and seventeen.
YA: Because we’re dealing with different stuff.
Shevi: Absolutely! For example, the Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison, like Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, deal with friendships, first crushes, everyday family stuff . . .
YA: And the character is younger, so that’s definitely younger YA.
Shevi: Yes. And my Legend of Gilbert the Fixer series that starts with Why My Love LifeSucks has a seventeen-year-old character dealing with the last year of high school and who he wants to be after high school.
YA: Definitely older YA.
YA: But it’s only like PG-13, so younger teens can read it.
Shevi: Yes, and that’s true of a lot of YA. Younger teens can read it. They just might not necessarily relate to it. It depends on the maturity of the particular reader and what they’re going through.
YA: (Back to texting) Yeah.
Shevi: And that’s one of the misconceptions I’d like to clear up. Some people think that any book with a teenage protagonist is a YA, and that’s just not the case.
YA: (Laughs) Yeah, because if that was true, all those Disney princess movies would be YA, and they’re so not!
Shevi: Right! A YA novel has to deal with same things teens are dealing with today. Like first romantic relationships.
YA: (Blushes) Ewwww . . . Don’t talk about that out loud, okay?
Shevi: Don’t worry. It’s just between the reader and you.
YA: (Nods and goes back to texting)
Shevi: Two other common misconceptions are that a YA book has to be completely clean . . .
YA: (Laughs) Yeah, no.
Shevi: Or that YA books can only be issue books that deal with things like sex, violence, drugs . . .
YA: (Blushes) Yeah, no.
Shevi: A YA book can certainly deal with serious issues. That’s fine. But there are all kinds of YAs.
YA: Yeah, just like there are all kinds of teens.
Shevi: Exactly. And a YA refers to an audience age-group, not a genre. A YA can be in any genre. It can be an issue book, but it can also be a comedy, a fantasy novel, a science fiction novel . . .
YA: (Excited) Have you read The Hunger Games? It’s ah-mazing!
Shevi: That’s another thing. You don’t have to be a teen to appreciate YA. A good book is a good book, no matter how old you are.
YA: Thank you!
Shevi: Before we go, is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
YA: (Looks up and puts her phone down. She takes a deep breath and lets it out.) I wish people would stop telling me what to do.
YA: Some writers treat us like we’re little kids. They don’t understand who we are or what we’re going through. They lie to us. They’re not honest. You don’t have to tell me what to do or think or feel. I can do those things for myself! It’s like . . . it’s like they don’t respect me.
Shevi: (Nods) I think that’s something every writer should keep in mind, no matter who their audience is. No one likes to be condescended to. I know I don’t. And you know what else?
Shevi: I love your honesty. I think that’s what makes you one of my favorite categories of books. You don’t waste time but get straight to the point.
YA: (Blushes) I like that about me, too.
Shevi: So I hope that clears up a few misconceptions. If you want to know more, just check out the books in the the teen section of your local library or bookstore. The more you read, the more you'll realize how great YA books are.