Tag Archives: young adult

Young Adult Literature – PG or PG13?

I was around 12 when I made the “jump” (as I considered it) from the Juvenile Fiction section of the library to the Young Adult side. Besides a geographical relocation, the biggest impact of the move was that I now had to be extra careful with the books I selected. Compared to Juvenile Fiction (where anything besides a chaste kiss would have been shocking), the Young Adult books I perused seemed chalk full of sex, language, and dark, mature content. Where I once read broadly from all genres and authors, I now tiptoed, jumping from safe series (like the Hardy Boys Classified) to familiar authors (like Jessica Day George). In fact, it wasn’t until college that I fully embraced YA as a genre and felt comfortable trying books at random.  It seems silly now, but at the time this search for “safety” involved quite a bit of soul searching and boundary stretching on my part. 

Part of what got me reading YA broadly was that I moved libraries. The tiny, local library in Dayton, TN didn’t have the resources for a kids’ section and a teens’ section. The result was a sort of hodgepodge of the two, broadly called “Young Adult.” A part of me always felt they got it wrong. Either you have “clean” books, or you don’t. You can’t mix them. 

However, looking at it now, I’ve started to wonder about my definition of “young adult.” I’ve always considered it like a PG13 movie rating. When you enter, you go in with the knowledge that there is “mature content ahead.” Many books I’ve seen placed in YA recently seem to belong to the more innocuous PG rating, however. It is somewhat more mature than a G rating (or traditional Juvenile Fiction), but comparatively clean. Or perhaps they are just coming of age stories a grade schooler wouldn’t find interesting, particularly if it contains older characters or more subtle themes. 

I suppose the YA genre is a mix of PG and PG13, though it still seems like a nuanced jump to me. How would you define YA? Do you have a particular way of categorizing it in your mind?

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Can’t Wait Wednesday

I love following kattiescottagebooks…I learn about so many different weekly spotlights (like Teaser Tuesdays) and now, Can’t Wait Wednesday! If you like reading about books, you should definitely follow her here.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted here, at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released.

This was an easy pick for me. I can’t wait to read…

I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Title: I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Publishing date: May 30th, 2017

Plot: Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She’s for sure going to Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

 

KOREAN DRAMAS AND YOUNG ADULT FICTION.  It is the combination of two of my favorite things; I’m psyched. There is no way this book will live up to my expectations. It just isn’t possible. I also know this because the synopsis says, “where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten.” That is a blatant lie. Everyone knows that if the heroine is in her true love’s arms in episode ten, something horrible is going to happen because there are 6 more hours to go. HOWEVER, I’m super excited anyway. Hopefully this won’t be the next Girl Online


Marie Lu

Marie Lu is a popular Young Adult writer whose works always seem to be hovering about my to-read list never getting read. I finally decided to change that and over the past week or so read the first books in her two trilogies: The Young Elites and Legend. Unfortunately, neither overly impressed me. 

The Young Elites has an X-Men, fantasy feel. Certain survivors of a deadly fever start developing superhuman abilities. Society fears and alienates them. A few band together and become rebels, openly opposing and attacking the corrupt, inefficient government. I did not particularly care about any of the characters and this removed a lot of the emotional punch from the story. The writing style annoyed me. In the end, this book was more creative than Legend, but never enough to win me over.

With Legend, I liked the characters separately but was driven to distraction by their awkward insta-love. This is an unoriginal, dystopian novel that relies heavily on the usual trope but doesn’t particularly add anything. The writing style annoyed me so much I nearly gave up after the first two chapters. There is certainly some possibility here but it lacks the world-building necessary to be something really interesting. 

I might try her third series when it comes out but I probably won’t go out of my way to read it. 


Kimchi & Calamari by Rose Kent

I stumbled upon Kimchi & Calamari by Rose Kent while browsing at a local library and I am so glad I did. The book was surprisingly charming and adorable while also handling real life issues in a believable way. 

The plot follows 14-year-old Joseph Calderaro, Korean by birth but raised Italian by his adopted parents in New Jersey. He doesn’t fee like he belongs in either world. When his social studies teacher assigns an essay about heritage, Joseph struggles to merge his two worlds and discover who he truly is. 

The book’s main focus is adoption, but also balances the struggles of middle school, girls, and the meaning of family. I like that the ending doesn’t get corny and wrap up with a perfectly written essay or something. I really thought it would. While it has a “happy” ending, Joseph’s struggles are never underplayed or overplayed. They were realistic. He is a middle school kid who just wants to figure out where he comes from. 

I definitely recommend this one for older grade school/middle school readers and anyone interested in adoption, Korean/Italian culture, or just a good, “coming of age” story. 


Geek Girl by Holly Smale

I am kind of surprised Geek Girl by Holly Smale ended up on my to-read  list; generally, I don’t go out of my way to mark fluffy, Young Adult books as “gotta find this.” However, someone must have tipped me off, because this book ended up being a charming and hilarious read! 

Plot: Harriet Manners is a geek. She knows this because she looked it up in the dictionary that she keeps by her bed. Her fashion sense is non-existent and she has all of one friend at school. When a modeling agency offers to make her their latest star, she jumps at the chance to have a “Cinderella moment” and become someone new. Does she have what it takes to go from geek to chic? 

Thoughts: I giggled my way through this entire book. Harriet Manners is horrendously awkward, socially inept, and utterly fun. She is surrounded by a crew of quirky, fun characters. While this is a “typical” transformation story, it also isn’t at all. I expected angst as Harriet becomes ‘someone new,’ but Harriet basically remains herself throughout the story. The book has a great message about being yourself but isn’t heavy-handed with it. And did I mention Geek Girl was funny? (My disclaimer here is that every time I read something out loud to share my amusement, my sister just stared at me blankly…so it might not be quite as hilarious as I thought. But it probably is and she just didn’t have a sense of humor last night.) 

The book is clean and perfectly appropriate for the targeted Middle School readers (or, y’know, non-Middle School readers. Like me.) 

My only complaint is that there is this sort of half-developed romance that could have been a cute addition but falls flat. Otherwise, quite a pleasant, fluffy read.  


New BFF: Persis Blake from Across A Star-Swept Sea

Let me begin by saying, I love The Scarlet Pimpernel. I love the book. I love the 1982 movie starring Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour, and Ian McKellen. I love Sir Percy Blakeney, aka The Scarlet Pimpernel. I love the story, the series, the characters, everything. 

So you better believe that when someone recommended a young adult, science fiction, gender-bender retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, I was understandably wary. I’ve seen The Scarlet Pimpernel retold before, and it isn’t always pretty. Thankfully, Across A Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund turned out to be an amazing exception to the rule. This book was creative, well-written, fun, and actually quite believable. A great part of this was due to the main character: Lady Persis Blake. Aka, my new literary best friend. 

I liked Persis initially simply because she reminded me of Sir Percy Blakeney. I came to love her, however, because she takes all those attributes I liked in Sir Percy and makes them uniquely her own. Persis is a smart, strong, and likable heroine. Her transitions from empty-headed court lady to fearless leader to nerdy and dutiful daughter were believable and fun. She is a heroine but she isn’t a revolutionary. At some level, she accepts and takes for granted the limits placed on women in her society and I was pleasantly surprised by that. She wasn’t angsty. 

In fact, for a young adult novel, this book does a good job avoiding angst, even with the romance! No insta-love or mooning allowed.

Persis Blake combines all the attributes I like about The Scarlet Pimpernel with her own charm and context and I think that alone makes this book worth reading. 


Someone else’s Absolute Favorite Book

There are few things more dangerous than giving someone your favorite book. I don’t mean a book you like. I mean, your favorite book. The story that means the world to you. The one you go to when life is hard or when you simply want peace with the world. The book that maybe just changed your life. That book. 

It is dangerous and it is down right vulnerable. By sharing the story, you are opening yourself up. Of course, this isn’t going to be the case with every book you lend out or suggest, but in some cases, it just is. Five years down the road the story might not mean as much to you, but in the moment, that book is something special. 

I used to think that the giving of the book was the bigger deal. After all, you’re the one going out on a limb here. However, I’m starting to think it can be just as difficult receiving a well cherished book. In fact, I’m convinced of it. There are so many nuances to the situation. What if you hate it? Do you tell them that? What if you find it mediocre? Will it affect a newly fledgling friendship? Should you be conciliatory, and if so, how far? You can’t really praise it to their face and bash it on Goodreads. Especially if they are friends with you on Goodreads. 

These things are especially on my mind tonight because a friend gave me her Absolute Favorite Book Of All Time To Read and I’m starting to wish she hadn’t. There is a love triangle. And insta-love. And mooning. And angst. Basically, it is stereotypical Young Adult and if I had gotten this from the library I wouldn’t go any farther. But I will finish it. I’ll read the sequel too, since she gave it to me. However, I can’t say I’m enjoying this one yet and all my hopes are basically pinned on the last half suddenly becoming amazing. Because if not…I’m going to have to walk the fine line of critiquing without offending. And really, who can do that well?