For some reason Ms. Graham has self-appointed herself the arbiter of what others SHOULD read. I wonder what qualifies her to do that? Is it her education? Maybe it’s her job? Sorry, but none of that sits well with me. Is it the fact that she writes for different publications? No that can’t be it either. In truth, she has no right to judge what anyone else reads.
She could just as easily have titled her article “Against romance novels, mystery novels, suspense novels, or maybe she could have targeted readers of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Sydney Sheldon, Mary Higgins Clark, Nicholas Sparks, or any author or genre she decided was unfit. Again, I ask who made her the judge of what anyone should read?
Like every other genre in existence, YA has authors and books that are sublime and others that are sub-par. She seems to feel that because something is written for teens and young adults it is somehow not literature and therefore not worth reading. She must not know any teenagers because I can tell you that they are incredibly intelligent and can handle reading Shakespeare, Wharton, Lawrence, Plath, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Garcia Marquez just as well as Laurie Halse Anderson, Sherman Alexie, Ruta Sepetys, Rainbow Rowell and John Green. Teens and adults can read ALL of these authors and countless others and receive equal enjoyment, intellectual stimulation, and yes, learn about life.
I’d like to end by saying that I’m older than Ms. Graham and probably older than most readers of YA (although I did meet more than one “official” senior citizen at YALLFest last year). YA transcends age, which I believe all good books should do. However, I do not read only YA. I consider myself a well-read person. I have read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Garcia Marquez, Faulkner, Austen, and Hugo to name a few. I have read these authors for my own enjoyment not just for school (I purposely did not include authors that I had to read for school). I have also read other more contemporary authors such as Maya Angelou, Khaled Hosseini, Barbara Kingsolver, and Isabelle Allende. I also enjoy reading Sophie Kinsella, John Grisham and even the occasional Nicholas Sparks novel. Does that matter? It shouldn’t, because as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”