This week’s entry in our “So You Want to Read YA?” series comes from Nova Ren Suma.
I occasionally find myself the lone YA writer in a room full of writers of adult literary fiction. I also occasionally find myself having to deflect comments about my books (I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “No, I don’t write about vampires”) and explaining that, in YA, we have the same kinds of books the adult shelves do. We have vampires, sure, and we have science fiction and we have stories about the end of the world. We have fast-paced mysteries and thrillers. We have love stories. We have sad stories. We have funny stories. We have beautifully crafted literary novels, too. We have every kind of book you could imagine.
I often find myself recommending some of the novels that had an impact on me, both as a reader of YA and as a writer. There’s the poetry and imagination in Feathered by Laura Kasischke, which effectively changed my life, and Lips Touch, Three Times by Laini Taylor (which I love all the more for being a short story collection). I’ve been known to read the first page aloud from Paper Towns by John Green to anyone who will listen, and I’ve lent out Good Girls by Laura Ruby to so many friends, I don’t know where my copy is anymore. To show what’s possible with multiple perspectives, I recommend Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia and Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles (title similarity a total coincidence). I wish everyone would read How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff and Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff. For a true sense of being a teenager and why I find it so important to write about this intense and confusing period, I’d recommend Beautiful by Amy Reed. To show that YA novels can take huge risks—and do not shy from very dark content—I’d show Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. I will never be able to keep my eyes dry after reading Sweethearts by Sara Zarr, and I challenge you to try. And for anyone who doubts that YA contains books of true literature that would hold their own on any adult shelf, I insist they read Hold Still by Nina LaCour. My latest discovery—thanks to a recommendation from a certain blogger for this very blog!—is The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin, which I will probably be running around recommending to teens and adults alike for months.