Today's "So You Want To Read YA?" guest post comes from Julie Cross, author of the time travel romance novel Tempest.
Julie Cross lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She never considered writing until May or 2009 and hasn't gone a day without it since. Julie's website is http://juliecross.blogspot.com/ and she tweets @JulieCross1980.
You’re out there. I know you are. I’ve seen you in the gym, peddling away on the stationary bike, a book open in front of you, towel around your neck. And what’s that you’re reading…Hunger Games? Or is it a John Green novel?
Wait…aren’t those books for teenagers?
What happened to Jodi Picoult and Janet Evanovich? What happened to cook books and self help magazines? What happened to steamy women’s romance novels with a Fabio look-alike on the cover?
Who cares what happened! Whatever it is, I like it. And yeah, I’m an author who writes for teens so I can stroll through the YA section at Barnes and Noble with a little more confidence and justification than the other thirty or forty something moms who love to read YA books, but really, lots of people want you there. Trust me when I say this, and it’s kind of insider info so try not to rat out the source, but publishers and authors depend, yes depend, on YA book sales from middle-aged mothers like myself.
I can’t remember exactly what made me start writing, it’s a big question I get asked all the time and only answer with, “I didn’t begin writing until May of 2009.” I was twenty nine and a mom of three who just happened to love Harry Potter, read all four Twilight novels in a week, cried and gapped over the awesomeness that is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Anyway, I’m half-convinced that I only started writing because I wanted to feel like I had a good reason to hang out in the teen section of the library. Okay, not hang out. Just check out…books. And…uh…research…for my book.
I tried to read some grown up books and I did like them, but most of them didn’t make me think and feel as much as the YA books. I’m sure that could just be me, but like I said, I’ve seen you guys. I know you’re out there. So, today, I’m sending forth my most important message yet: Fear not. Step into the YA section with confidence. You belong there just as much as those adolescents giggling at you behind your back.
My data regarding moms reading YA fiction is not solely based on observations from stationary bike riders in physical fitness center. I actually talk to lots of moms everyday including my sister, cousins, aunts and most of them started reading YA with a big hit series that was nearly impossible to ignore—Twilight, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc. But after those books, they were totally clueless as to which YA to choose next. I have an excellent system and track record for recommending YA books to moms because even though I do read them all the time and have for years, I’m still picky about what I like. My mom perspective is not identical to the teen perspective.
My oldest child has just begun middle school this year, so I don’t have an actual teenager yet, but when I do, I feel like I’m more prepared to use books to help discuss things openly with them. Reading YA has helped me to remember what it’s like to be that age…it’s so, so hard. And we need to be able to sympathize with our children in order to help them make the right choices. And maybe your situation isn’t identical to mine. Let’s say your children (child) are very young, a long way from the teen years and you’re up to your ears and elbows in laundry, finger paint, crumbs on the kitchen floor, walls that never look white, and you just need a world to escape to that’s so different than your own—this is what reading YA can give you.
My family has been so supportive throughout my publication process, they’ve all been reading YA like crazy to give my genre a leg-up, so I’ve been giving suggestions like crazy. Here’s a little list I’ve compiled to help you choose a YA novel beyond the big name books that have crossed genres in the past several years.
I Liked Twilight, So What Next?
- Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (also the sequels Linger and Forever)
- Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (lots of NON Twi-hards LOVE this series, too, including me)
- Tempest by Julie Cross (had to slide that in)
- Across The Universe by Beth Revis (also the sequel A Million Suns)
- Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
I Like Jodi Picoult or Nicholas Sparks and Don’t Mind Tear-Jerkers
- The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
- The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (might even please the literary fans!)
- Before I Die by Jenny Downham (This is British...and I LOVE a good English book)
- Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
- If I Stay by Gayle Forman
- The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Hunger Games Was Great, But I’m Not Usually Into The Dystopian Stuff
(aka—Dystopian for people who might not like Dystopian)
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
- Delirium by Lauren Oliver
- Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer
I Like Fun Chic-lit Type Books, like Something Borrowed or Nanny Diaries
- Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
- Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
- Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler
- The Future Of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
- Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Coming-of-Age type Books Along The Lines of Catcher In The Rye
(quirky characters and large doses of teenage humiliation)
- Looking For Alaska by John Green
- And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky
- The Edumacation Of Jay Baker by Jay Clark
- An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (can you tell I love John Green?)
I Want To Read YA, But I Like Edgy, Issue Books And Darker Themes
- Story Of A Girl by Sara Zarr
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
- Winter Girls by Laurie Halse Anderson, also Speak—her most widely known title
- Crash Into Me by Albert Borris
- Clean by Amy Reed
- How To Save A Life by Sara Zarr
There you have it! Some of my personal favorites and because I can only read so much and there’s tons of YA I didn’t mention here, maybe we’ll get some more suggestions in the comment section. So, go forth and read those teen books, strut into that YA section of the bookstore like you own the place. And shamelessly enjoy the wonderful, ever-growing genre that is young adult literature.
Julie Cross's debut novel Tempest, published January 17, 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin, is the first in a series by the same name.
After his girlfriend Holly is fatally shot during a violent struggle, nineteen-year-old Jackson uses his supernatural abilities and travels back in time two years, where he falls in love with Holly all over again, learns that his father is a spy, and discovers powerful enemies of time who will stop at nothing to recruit him for their own purposes (description via WorldCat).