On Young Adult Literature

I may no longer be a young adult, or YA as they say in the bookselling business, but there’s something compelling about the genre. I wonder why that is? Why did parents and grandparents read the Harry Potter series right along with the kids? Why is Hunger Games so popular among such a range of ages? Why do we look for the grownup versions of Harriet the Spy,The Giver, Bridge to Terabithia, the Narnia books?

There’s a saying that there are only two stories: 1)Someone Goes on a Journey (The Hobbit, The Odyssey); 2)A Stranger Comes to Town (Stranger in a Strange Land, Gone With the Wind). I submit that there’s a third, the “Who Am I Really?” story. And that’s what YA is all about. Star Wars is as much about Luke Skywalker standing on Tatooine looking out at the two moons, as it is about the space battles. Hogwarts has its sorting hat, that knows where you belong. The new Divergent series is basically Hogwarts set in a dystopian Chicago, with the Dauntless standing in for Gryffindor, Self-Abnegation for Hufflepuff, Erudite for Ravenclaw, Amity for another aspect of Hufflepuff, and Candor for hmmm, Slytherin really doesn’t match here, so it’s fortunately not identical.

So, have I ever really grown up? I think I have a pretty good handle on who I am, and oddly, it’s not very different from myself at 1year old, 7 years old, 13, 17, and 21. So there’s a follow-up question to  “who am I?” as posed in the Babylon 5 TVseries, which is “why am I here?” Which is another overriding theme in YA literature.  And that’s the question I’m still working on.






Photos by Betts Huntley, father and photographer extraordinaire.

And finally, for your viewing pleasure, and while I’m pretty sure I’m not a Hufflepuff, I just think this video is cute:

Comments are welcome: What YA books were your favorites?







  1. The Harry Potter series (except for book 5) wins my vote. There are times when both Harry and Katniss get a little tedious, with all their “who am I?” angst. I guess we all do at some point, especially in those teenage years. 🙂

    Love the video!

  2. mwhuntley · · Reply

    Good blog, Mary! Having known you girls all your lives, I would say none of you have changed a whole lot from the personalities, interests, talents (expanded but you’ve shown interest/talent in those pursuits all along the way) I saw in you at earlier ages and stages of your development. Same for me. Michael changed a good bit from the happy little boy he was, and I wonder i we’ll ever know why. Daddy, from stories I’ve heard, is much the same character!
    I’ve read and liked two YA books this past year — The Book Thief and one Gretchen loaned me, Fifty Shades of Difference, about a Latvian (I think) girl sent with her family to the Soviet gulags — very harrowing. These books were very well written and had riveting storylines, for any age.

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