Skip to main content

The Need For Younger YA


There's been a new rise in the discussion of the need for a "Younger YA" or an "Upper Middle Grade" which is a wonderful development. Even though it will be a long road to actually see this change executed in the publishing world, the more times we have conversations like this, and the more authors, like Angie Thomas, who call attention to the need for it and want to write it, the closer we'll get. I'm hopeful that one day, we'll finally have books to build bridges between middle grade and YA and YA and adult as we're missing the connection points on both sides.
I think that having books for the 12, 13, and possibly 14 year olds to read until they're ready for the gritty reality of YA is the most important spot we're missing because so many kids quit reading in that time. It's hard to stay dedicated to a hobby that doesn't seem to care about you anymore. Kids who love to read do find ways around it (continuing with middle grade, launching into YA early), or, like me, read classics to fill the space.
Through sixth and seventh grade when I'd devoured most of the middle grade books out there, I turned to my mom and my teachers, asking what I could read that would be challenging enough but also appropriate because that's still a real factor at that age.
I read lots of classics in the break between kids books. I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Pride and Prejudice, and Little Women (though I'm still not sure if I finished that entire book). My mom started reading classics in her free time to see if they would be a. good fit for me. These books didn't feel like they were for me, and I didn't care for them quite as much as kid lit, but it kept me reading long enough to make it to YA.
Most kids, though, aren't attached to reading enough to settle for books that aren't quite right or scrounge for new books themselves. They want to see themselves directly represented. They still want to read up. There are only a sprinkling of books about freshmen and sophomores, and, where they exist, they're shelved with the YA that has 16 and 18 year old protagonists. They're too young for the kids who stumble upon them eventually, but they're the kind of books you look back at longingly, wishing you'd known they existed only a year or two before.
Beyond creating books with protagonists for this underserved age groups and telling them stories that are interesting to them and appropriate, we need to get better at subcategorizing YA because books for all of these underserved ages exist, they're just few and far between and hidden from view.
12-18 is a huge span of ages. Most 12 and 13 year olds don't even go to school in the same building as the high schoolers. They still haven't been exposed to what high school is like, and, reading about a junior or senior won't give them any insight into navigating freshman year. Not having some bridge category and lumping these kids in with the rest of the high schoolers is lazy and damaging to the overall goal of keeping people reading.
I'm glad that people with such sway in the YA community like Angie and others who hav joined the conversation are putting out the call and considering writing books for those kids. I also love that, not only are we pushing for those books to exist, we're pushing to label them as such. If there was better grouping of books by protagonist age, it would be far easier for everyone to identify the phase of life they're interested in reading about. It would make a more satisfying reading experience for everyone, allowing an awareness for the kind of content and appeal to expect from a book before you commit to it.
Posts Like This
Discussion of NA: Here

Links of Interes:
Summer Bird Blue: Review Here
The Year They Fell: Review Here
99 Days: Review Here
Safe Space Books: Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn Cover Reveal

Today is a very special post because I get to show you all a first glimpse at More Than Maybe, Erin Hahn's sophomore novel. I've been excited about this book since I finished You'd Be Mine, and I'm so happy to finally be able to see the cover and learn a little more about Luke and Vada. Before I get to telling you about MTM and showing off the cover, I just wanted to talk a little bit about how I first found and fell for Erin's work. I randomly stumbled upon You'd BeMine on Netgalley and decided to give it a try, and from the second I read the first page and heard Clay's voice so clearly in my head, I was hooked. After I finished reading, I wanted to know more about the book, the characters, and how the story came to be, so I reached out to Erin, and she was sweet enough to agree to do an interview. I know I'm not supposed to pick favorites, but her thoughtful answers and complete sincerity makes my interview with her one of my favorites of them all. I…

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Permanent Record Review

Permanent Record by Mary HK Choi
Overview: Pablo's life is a mess. He works at a bodega or a "health food store" depending on who you ask, which is about the only thing he has going right at the moment. He dropped out of NYU, though that debt still follows him, along with the credit card bills from some ill advised buying sprees. He has a good group of friends that he lives with and a family that genuinely does love him, but he has no clue what he's doing. What's the end goal? Who knows... Overall: 5 

General Thoughts: This is not a normal part of my reviews, but I had some things I wanted to say that don't necessarily fit anywhere else. 1) I love this book, but I feel like it's for a very particular set of readers. You MUST be a lover of character driven stories because a lot of this book is exploring Pablo's mind. I love that. I honestly don't care about plot if I love your characters, but I know a lot of people aren't like that, so fair warni…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Goodbye, Perfect

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard (January 29)
Overview: Eden has always been the irresponsible one with poor grades, a loud mouth, and a general air of irresponsibility, but it's her friend Bonnie that takes over the headlines of every major news station in the UK. Bonnie disappears with her ,music teacher and parent boyfriend, Jack Cohen, better known to everyone at Kett as Mr. Cohen. Eden can't believe that a friend would do this, but, suddenly, when she gets a WhatsApp message from Bonnie, she's clued in to their runaway mission. Pressured by her family, Bonnie's, and the cops, Eden refuses to tell them what they know because she made a promise to her best friend. Overall: 3.5 

Characters: 3 Okay, I guess I can see some of the thinking behind these characters, but it wasn't articulated very well. Eden refuses to tell on her friend even though she knows how wrong and serious the situation is. I can see making a promise and being hesitant, but I can't see a sixt…

Into YA with Laura Silverman

Today I'm posting an interview that has been a long time in the making. I reached out to do this interview with Laura before You Asked For Perfect came out, and then things got busy so it's been a minute since doing this interview, but YAFP is one of my favorite books all year. If you haven't read the book, it is an absolute must read for anyone involved in high school, heading to senior year, in education, or is a parent. I've never read a book where I yelled "That's me!" so many times. Here's my review to catch up so that you can have a little context for that. 

1. Where did you get the inspiration to write a book about the reality students today face? I love how you delve into the intense pressure to take as many APs as possible, and, as the title implies, to be perfect.
I went to an academically competitive high school where we were encouraged to take as many AP classes as possible and to sign up for extra electives, which led to things like zero pe…

You'd Be Mine Review

You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn (April 2) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
Overview: Clay Coolidge is the new hotshot in country music, but his tour hinges on him signing his opening act, Annie Mathers. While they doubt Clay can keep his cool on the summer tour highlife, they know that Annie has a promising career ahead of her because she's the product of two of countries hottest, and most infamous, country superstars. Even though the door starts as a business deal, it winds up being a journey of self discovery and a love story of its own. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 Annie and Clay are more than just celebrities or musicians. They're real people, and, while you get a glimpse at their larger than life sides, Hahn never lets you get swept up in the glitz and the glamor. They are two brand new adults in a brand new world, still mourning losses from their old one.
Annie has been trying to outrun her parents, and their famous double suicide, since she found their b…

Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner Lianne Oelke (420 pages)
Overview: Jane wants to forget the past. Forget the high school that expelled her. Forget the people that watched her fall from grace. Forget her family who thinks that prayer is the answer to everything. Facing community college at Elbow River as a last resort graduation option, she signs up to be on House of Orange, a new web reality show, to solve her housing problem. Though she knows to expect the unexpected, House of Orange and its inhabitants test Jane in ways she never imagined. Maybe the year won't be as bad as she imagined. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I LOVE Jane. There are very few main characters I can say that I appreciated more. Her sarcasm, dry humor, and outlook on life echoed my own thoughts, and I loved how she was so introspective. It is fascinating to listen to Jane work through her own thoughts and recognize her behaviors as masks for other feelings. I also thought that Oelke did a wonderful job with her depiction of Ja…

Spin

Spin by Lamar Giles (387 pages)
Overview: Fuse and Kya have lost their best friend. #ParSecNation lost their leader, and the Dark Nation has decided to do something about it, even if it means terrorizing those who were closest of her. DJ Paris Secord, or ParSec was murdered at a warehouse she planned to throw a party in. Fuse and Kya found her when they'd come to make amends for different issues they'd rather the public, or the cops, not know about. But they both want to see Paris's killer caught, so they might have to overcome their differences and work together. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 Fuse, Paris, and Kya all get a turn to narrate the story which I enjoyed. They each have their own voices and personalities that really shine through and bring a different angle to the same storyline.
Fuse is rich. Her dad runs a successful marketing company, and she shifted what she learned from him to making Paris's music and brand famous. She helped Paris climb the ranks, but, at t…

Heroine

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis (417 pages) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
TW: Depiction of opioid addiction 
Overview: Mickey has it all. She's on the best softball team in the county, she has a supportive best friend, and, even though her parents have recently gone through a divorce, they both want to support her. And then she and Carolina get into a car accident on the way home to watch Netflix and eat pizza, a regular Friday night. Mickey's leg is all but torn out of her body, and her hip has to be put together with screws. Carolina, the school's near famous pitcher, nearly destroys her arm. As the girls fight to be ready in time to play their senior softball season, Mickey falls down a dangerous road, slowly upping her intake of pain pills to get through the day and to quicken her pace through physical therapy. Even as she tells herself that it's just for softball, just for her team, just for her parents, as she gets further in and her dependency i…