The process of reading Young Adult books usually begins around the age of fourteen, when the Middle Grade phase of reading books for pleasure and/or in the curriculum wanes. Young Adult novels sparkle and shine for the older, more mature reader. Let the magic begin!
Young Adult novels can be found in many guises. From fantasy to dystopia to romance to historical fiction to…the sky, as someone said, is the limit. And perhaps even that is not the limit anymore with all the space opera options swirling around the reader.
A teenager, of course, should be the protagonist and preferably the antagonist as well. Adults are certainly welcome within the pages but should only be supporting characters and happily can be villains (as many adults seem to be villains within a teen’s real life.)
The most important part of a Young Adult novel is this: The teenager/s should act like teens! And this is where the process becomes important, because growing up is just that. For the impressionable teen to mature, for new concepts and values to light up his/her brain, the truth must shine through. Of course, that truth can be dark, hurtful, even sinister. But truth must be there, on the page, in the very sinew and soul of the book. If it isn’t, the work will be a sham. It will be false and clearly a danger to the reader, who by virtue of his/her youth, is beyond vulnerable to what s/he reads.
My debut Young Adult novel, Beulah Land, tells the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who lives in the Missouri Ozarks. Part of the book deals with dark, hurtful, and sinister events. The protagonist, Violette Sinclair, is smart, and strong-minded, and gay. She and her best friend, Junior McKenna, navigate treacherous territory in the form of a dog fight ring, a corrupt sheriff, and Vi’s mother, who harbors dark and sinister secrets.
A coming-of-age story, it is my great hope that Beulah Land will not only sparkle and shine for the reader but will give insight, courage, and above all, integrity to all who read the book. And, of course, viva to the process. Once more, let the magic begin!