Why I Read YA Fiction As An Old Lady.

I just finished With The Fire On High yesterday and it’s my first 5-star read of the year! I actually bought the book in the Spring when I went through Knoxville and stopped by my favorite book store. I expected to read it on vacation and never did and then it became another book on the bedside table that I needed to read.

Well, last week I posted this picture VOWING to not buy any more books until I had read at least half of the ones in this picture and a friend of mine mentioned how much she loved WTFOH so I queued it up next.

It’s funny…It was good in the ways that I expected, but what was really the thing that pushed it to 5-star status was the descriptive language Acevedo used to describe her emotions. The way she described the complicated feelings Emoni had towards her Father who left when she was a baby but was still in her life, was so poignant and accurate that I actually bookmarked pages to read some of the passages to others.

Emoni is also a teen Mom struggling to balance parenthood and school and while my balance was in college, not in high school, I found so much of her struggle so very relatable.

I don’t usually write entire blog posts about books but reading this book I think really clarified so many things I love about YA novels. No adults, no matter how well-adjusted, has things they still struggle with from their younger years. Complicated relationships with parents or regrets about life paths or bad relationships or insecurities…and YA authors are often so in touch with those struggles that it is almost like these books help me sort out some of my own feelings from around that age. Or hell, even from around this age.

It’s sad that so many people discount YA fiction simply because they don’t think they can relate to a teenage character, when the truth us, many of us still have things we need to work through for our younger selves. How many of us carry around insecurities from years being bullied? Or how many of us struggle as parents because we are trying to not make the same mistakes our parents made? How many of us have bad relationship habits built from falling in love with the wrong people in our formative years? How many of us had teachers who didn’t support our skills or didn’t have money to pursue hobbies that intrigued us.

If you can look back at your teenage years and feel like there’s nothing left for you to sort through or nurture, then good for you. But often times I’ll read a really good YA book and it will help me answer questions about myself, or help me let go of past pains, or at least help me understand them better.

And With The Fire On High did all of that and more. Who could have guessed how much a book about a Afro-Latinx high school senior in Philly who has almost a super-power when it comes to cooking – would help me process some of my own anxious years of early motherhood and feelings of disconnect.

2 thoughts on “Why I Read YA Fiction As An Old Lady.”

  1. If you look back to your teenage years and find that you have nothing left to sort through or nurture, then you are a good liar. If you think that you cant relate to a teenage main character, then don’t have any teenagers. Sorry I am in that kind of mood. I discovered YA literature when I took a Childrens literature class at Athens State. I loved most of the books and read The Giver and The Diceys song right after finishing the class. I recently read Turtles all the Way Down on your recommendation and found it to be excellent

  2. I recently moved to Knoxville area and am an AVID reader. I would love to know what your favorite bookstore here is. I’ve already got my library card from my small town (Lenoir City) as well as joined the larger Knox County Library System and have my Kindle but LOVE a good bookstore!!!

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