Welcome to another dose of Weekly Tea Discussion! This week’s discussion question: Who is more realistic, YA books or Adult Fiction?
As we book lovers know, books always manage to reflect the world around us, no matter how fictional they are. But lately there has been a slew of new books released that tie more closely to the cultural and political events that are happening around us, such as the New York Times Bestseller The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, two books that surround the Black Lives Matter movement. There has been a huge cluster of YA books that are becoming more political, albeit becoming more realistic-well, this is an opinion of an article on LitHub.com. With writers (younger writers) representing the younger voice in issues that matter to them, it would be easier to say that YA books are more realistic than literary fiction. But I don’t think that is necessarily true.
Here is the progression of reading from children’s book to adult books. Children books, most of the time, are stories that we wish life was like in reality. We wish we can solve mysteries, stand up to bullies, and go to magnificent school to learn wizardry and magic. Things may be hard, but it turns out to be alright in the end. Teen or YA books, on the other hand, prepare readers that there are not always happy endings. It introduces readers to the dark side of the real world and stories that may center on what is going in the real world. There are some light stuff, I am not trying to sound all doom and gloom, but YA books does tend to focus more sensitive subjects. Adult or literary books, I want to say, tends to have stories that have an equal balance. On one hand, you will find books that we’ll find exciting and stories that make life interesting. And on the other hand, you’ll find stories that are political and examine the deep recesses of the human mind. You’ll find books that are more psychological and play on our fears.
So with that comparison out-of-the-way, let me answer the question. So which is more realistic? The answer: both are realistic but not because of their genres. Let me say that “YA” is not really considered a genre, so to say that YA books as a whole are becoming more realistic is an incorrect statement. The same goes for Adult books. It is not the genres themselves that are becoming more real, it is the writers. They are the ones who are putting down on paper on stories that reflect the world around them, which just so happens to be directed towards a younger audience. It is not fair to dismiss an entire genre just because they don’t discuss hot button issues. It is out there and I am not saying it shouldn’t be talked about but people read do it to take a break from real life. So, literary fiction or just all fiction in general is not going to always going to be realistic but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t know what is going on.
So yes, it appears that they are a lot of newly released YA books that continuously reflect real life, but speaking as a Teen librarian, it is very small percentage. A huge amount are fantasy, mystery, supernatural, or romance. YA books are very direct. They don’t have hidden meanings or metaphors which is very appealing to a teenage audience. But to say they are going to “save the world”, it is not reading YA, it is reading as a whole. It taking in the entire world around you, which means reading realistic and non-realistic books. Also, this is where research comes in. If you want to read more realistic books, search for them. Don’t limit yourself to one genre or in this case one marketing age-group. There are real books in all three age groups. They are just waiting for you to pick them up, start reading, and giving them a chance.