So, on Saturday I reported that I was in a book slump. On Sunday I said that my goal for the week was to finish reading a book.
And then this weekend I read If I Stay, a young adult novel by Gayle Forman. I read it in two sittings, which shows you that it was good enough to break my slump, and plus I already achieved my goal of finishing a book this week.
If I Stay is a very sad book about 17-year-old Mia, a gifted cello player with a bright future. One snowy morning Mia and her family are out for a drive and are involved in a horrible car accident. Her parents are killed instantly, and the fate of her younger brother is unknown. Mia is taken to the hospital, where her condition is listed as "grave." The story is narrated by an out-of-body Mia, who must ultimately make the decision as to whether to live or die.
The book has a sequel coming out tomorrow, so it's pretty obvious what Mia's final decision will be. (Unless this is some kind of Sixth Sense situation, which it better not be, because talk about a downer.) Still, I was riveted to this book. It was one of those situations where I truly felt like I knew the main character and was totally worried about her. I ordered the sequel on my Kindle immediately, and the two days I have to wait to read it seem like an eternity.
It occurs to me that I have really only felt personally connected to book characters like this in YA novels. YA novels are so relatable, even when they are about fantasy creatures or futuristic societies. They are designed to be about universal feelings like uncontrollable love in the face of obstacles, questioning beliefs you've always held, and accepting that greater independence means greater personal responsibility.
Most adult novels aren't that easy to relate to. And really, when I do read a book about somebody I can relate to, a harried mother or woman trying to have it all, I feel equal parts reassured and stressed out. I guess what I'm trying to say is, books like that aren't always a very good escape. YA books, with their vampires and totalitarian oppressive governments, manage to simultaneously mirror your own feelings and give you an escape from them.
Also, I like how YA books are simply written. Too many adult books are needlessly padded with boring descriptions, obnoxious vocabulary, or flowery prose. YA is simple and cuts to the chase.
So, I agree with Leigh Ann's comment to my Saturday post. YA books really do just grab you more.
I also have to question what percentage of YA readers are actually young adults, as opposed to actual adults. I don't know about you, but I did absolutely zero reading for pleasure in high school. I was too busy reading all the required novels. Same story with college. So, I'm thinking the majority of YA readers are either under 14 or over 24. Or maybe I just tell myself that to make myself feel better about reading books written for children.