Young adults for the most part are still in the habit of learning. Their imaginations are still active, not having atrophied yet through years of the daily grind. Truly imaginative fiction is needed to fuel these vibrant imaginations and this need is suitably filled by the young adult novel.
The young adult novel has much to offer the older adult as well. It can re-light the fires of youth, blow dust off of unused imaginations, and shake life back into their lives. Television and movies have become so realistic that there is no real need to engage the imagination when watching them. This may be why more and more adults are turning to YA fiction. It emphasizes the imaginative and minimizes the pretensions. The great American novels are fine, but they can also be heavy going. For light, relaxing reading, YA is the way to go. It's an escape into another world. It's a magical transformation back to a simpler time. It's a world where there are no bills or mortgages or screaming kids or medical bills.
The YA novel holds an additional benefit for parents. By enjoying the same books as their children, they can enter their children's world in a new way. They share the experience with their child, thereby bridging the gap and brining them closer together. This is one of the reasons that we like to call Rowan of the Wood a "family book," even though it is generally billed as young adult.
It is a book that the entire family enjoys together. We've had mothers tell us how they raced their sons through it or traded off chapter by chapter. We've had other parents tell us how they read it to their younger ones who are too young to read it themselves. Daughter hands it to mother, who in turn shares it with her mother. It's multi-generational enjoyment!
I remember when I was a teen, I loved to talk about the books I was reading. I made the friends I did in High school because we all enjoyed the same books and could talk about them together. Imagine parents and their children having a similar connection through the tumultuous years of puberty.
As a young adult, I didn't limit myself to that category. Then, as now, I read anything that would hold my interest.
Nothing makes me sadder than when someone says to me “your book sounds interesting, but I don't have any kids of the appropriate age.”
My only possible reply is “everyone is a kid of the appropriate age."
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