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?