Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Five: A Wish List for the Past

We all know by now that I love YA.  I read it.  I gush about it.  I write it.  And then, I read it some more. 

BUT!  What you might not have realized from my steady stream of (at times) incoherent ramblings is that this has not always been the case.  Don't believe me?  Exhibit A: In high school, my reading list leaned decided toward adult mysteries and suspense novels.  Dean Koontz.  Jame Patterson.  Erica Spindler.  Mary Higgins Clark.  John Saul.  Just to name a few.  Of course, all that mystery was seasoned liberally with historical romances,* not to mention the undisputed queen of the night and vampire novels everywhere, Anne Rice.

So, where was the YA?  Sadly, in those days, my opinion of young adult novels was pretty low.  Yes, there was RL Stine and Christopher Pike and LJ Smith, but for a reader as voracious as I was even back then, those skinny little 150-200 page books that always always always ended with an HEA (happily ever after) just weren't my cup o' tea.  We all know how I like my tragic, or at the very least, bittersweet endings.

So, what happened to change all that, you might ask?  Simple.  The books.  In my opinion, the young adult genre has grown by leaps upon leaps and bounds upon bounds in the two decades since I myself enjoyed the age that is YA's target audience.  The materials are real and, at times, gritty.  They make you think, whether it's a literary piece commenting on suicide, drug problems, bullying, or any of the myriad issues affecting teens today or even a dystopian about a future society trying to be utopian but failing miserably, the books stay with us.  They speak to us.  They make us look at our own lives even while entertaining us with a unique tale.

There are just so many young adults books about there today that I really wish had been out back in my "young adult" days.  Which brings me to this week's Friday Five (bet you thought I'd never get to it, huh?)


Five Books Today I'd Liked to Have Had 'Yesterday'

JUST LISTEN by Sarah Dessen:  This happened to be the first Dessen book I picked up, and to date, I've read all her books.  She just has a way with shedding light on certain issues without making this a wallowy type of book.  The characters are real and well-defined here, and Owen is definitely swoon-worthy.  Plus, there's music.  A major bonus, as far as I'm concerned.

SOME GIRLS ARE by Courtney Summers: I love how the heroine here is so not a nice girl.  I hate her.  I love her.  She made me keep turning the pages.  I wish I could've had this book back in the day, or a book like it.  One that tells you that you can change, you can become a better person no matter how bad you were to begin with.  You can do the right thing, even if it damn near kills you...or at very least gets your ass kicked by your ex-best-friend.

PAPER TOWNS by John Green:  A fun caper that follows three friends on a quest to find Q's missing crush.  I love the relationships, the snarky comic genius of Ben and Radar.  I just love greatness of having boy MCs in my YA novels.  They're so few and far between, and a downright rarity when done well.

THE HUNGER GAMES (trilogy) by Suzanne Collins:  What did you really think I'd leave this off my list?  Especially after I've been waxing poetic about HG all week?  Also, I really would've liked to have these books in hand when mean ole Mr. H** made us read BRAVE NEW WORLD in 10th grade.  I hated that book, and he said it was simply because I didn't read sci-fi/dystopians so I was biased.  I so could've shoved HG in his face and been like, "Bitch, this is a dystopian society we should dissect...and it'd be a helluva lot more interesting."  Okay, maybe I wouldn't have said those exact words, but you get the drift.

WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson:  Of course, LHA has to be on this list.  SPEAK is another of hers that I tell everyone I know they must read, but considering it first appeared in print only a year after I graduated high school, that one was kind of 'around' back in the day.  But, WINTERGIRLS? guh.  One of the most honest tales of the hell that is an eating disorder.  Plus, LHA's writing is sheer poetry.  It just kills me.

Okay, so that's it for me this Friday Five, folks.  What books do you wish had been around back in your young adult hey-day?  Do share :)

*bet you can't see me as the overly-romantic sort, huh? well, I was...back in the day

**he wasn't really mean.  in fact, Mr H was one of my favorite teachers...but that doesn't mean I forgive him for making us read that crappy ass book. i'm just saying