Where are Young Adult Books Going Next?
There’s more than white female teenagers struggling with their first crush on the new white boy?
I recently went to Scholastic’s Book Feast and it really got me thinking a lot about Young Adult novels and what their place, and job, is now. I used to be a huge Young Adult reader, I couldn’t get enough of them. But, as time went on, I found myself getting really, really bored of them. I felt that the Young Adults books I was reading were all the same, they lacked depth, and in some cases, the speech definitely sounded like an adult trying to sound like a teenager. I’m not saying that this was the case for all books, just for some of the ones that I’d read and didn’t like.
However, as I sat at this Scholastic events listening to the latest and upcoming release, I couldn’t help but think that things were changing for the better. The books coming out appear to be much more diverse, with strong female voices, queer and PoC protagonists which books, not just Young Adult ones, are seriously lacking.
I’ve seen this change in the past few years too. The Hate U Give sends a brilliant message about black lives matter, and Simon vs The Homosapien Agenda (rebranded and Love, Simon for the film) has a gay main character. Diversity is something that has always been important, but I’m starting to see it now more than ever.
The new wave of young adult readers want books with depth. They want a deeper meaning and they want to see all kinds of people represented. I think you only need to look as far as Netflix’s Sex Education to see where Young Adult fiction is going. Sex Education is one of the most brilliantly diverse tv shows I’ve ever seen,and they do it without trying to too hard or being too ‘in your face’ about it. They’re effortlessly diverse. I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen a better friendship between a straight white boy and a gay black male before.
So where do I see young Adult books going next? Well to put it plainly, less white and less straight. In my opinion, the world has had enough of those books. I want to hear more different voices, I want to imagine more diverse characters and I want to learn about different cultures. Not only do I think it’s necessary, but I think it’s extremely important to do so. Books have the power to teach us so many things, so why not teach us that there’s more than white female teenagers struggling with their first crush on the new white boy?