Young Adult fiction has become increasingly popular in classroom use. Elementary schools are incorporating reading workshops—in which students read and discuss books of their own choosing—as a way to engage otherwise reluctant readers. Even college courses have adopted YA books, usually for special courses on Children’s Literature, but, even, in some cases, for First Year Experience reading (The Graveyard Book at Western Michigan University).
In general, the young adult market has expanded a great deal in recent years. Thanks to the success of books like the Harry Potter and Twilight series, many adults are reading books that were once traditionally thought of as books for tweens and teens.
My personal recommendation for anyone interested in YA fiction is to read Lauren Oliver’s debut novel, Before I Fall. Before I Fall is the story of a high school senior who dies in a car accident and instead of passing on is given the chance to relive her last day 6 more times. What follows is a book about fate, choice, and the difficult decisions we face growing up. The main character, Samantha Kingston, is so likeable in her imperfections; the characters are well-drawn and multifaceted, and the plot rushes forward, even though entire story takes place in the same day repeated seven times.
Even though I’m about 6 years older than the older end of the traditional YA market, I totally relate to and love this book. The intense, layered emotions and the flawed—yet resilient—friendships in the book perfectly mirror the cornerstones of my own adolescence. Oliver’s characters feel completely authentic. If you’re looking for a story that elegantly explores the emotional complexities of adolescence, I can’t recommend a better book.