As I scanned the rows of hardcovers and paperbacks, I noticed my obsession with contemporary young adult novels. Okay, maybe I knew and not just noticed it.
If I am what I read, then I am definitely contemporary YA. I have the heart of a sixteen year old and probably always will. I’ve cried, laughed, and fell in love so many times while reading these books it’s insane. When I shop around for my next read I try to pick up something I wouldn’t normally get, but it never ever works. That’s what happens with obsessions, you tend to relapse. There’s just something about the stories that make me want to build my world around them.
Contemporary YA is fiction set in reality (does that make sense?), so you won’t see wizards, vampires, or mystical creatures. These are teens going through realistic situations, tackling issues that their readers can relate to. I know that these novels tend to have that boy meets girl and girl falls in love sequence, but it’s also about how it all happens. It’s about how they fell in love, how they fell out of it, how they cope with their emotions, and everything in between. With the amount of books I’ve read which uses this romantic plot, I can honestly say no love story is exactly the same. And that is what’s so beautiful about them. You can always fall in love differently with each book you read. Aside from the romantic relationships, there’s true stories about friendships and family life. Contemporary YA is all about relatability.
I’ve diagnosed myself with what I call Extreme Feels while reading YAs. I’ve been pissed off, scared, nearly falling off my bed laughing, giddy and in complete ugly cry mode with most of my books. Thankfully, not all at the same time, just significantly close together. I’ve texted friends in ALL CAPS to put as much emphasis as I can with the near fatal emotions. I’ve stormed down the stairs to vent to my parents about all these issues addressed in the book and they’d look at me with weird faces. If I broke down each novel and pinpointed where and when these emotions were felt, we’d be here for a very, VERY, long time. Just trust me, Extreme Feels is a real thing.
Contemporary YA authors know how to take the words right out of my mouth. I’ve had (many) instances where I’m going through something and my current read causes me to stop mid-chapter as I undergo Déjà vu. It’s dramatically mind-blowing. And in that moment, I claim the book. There’s that instant connection where you don’t feel like you’re reading about someone else. As I re-read the line over and over, the words tend to go bold. Feelings are italicized and suddenly you’re quoting a whole dialog that sounds like one you had ten minutes ago. It’s so hard to write YA when just about every story has been told. However, a genius writer would know how to make you feel like it’s yours, yet not.
Reading is the closest thing we have to teleportation. There is nothing else out there that can give you that feeling of being immersed in another world, not even 3-D films. Even if the story is already written out for you, you still feel like you have the wheel. You allow it to take you on this journey and witness everything as it unfolds. You have the creative power to shape the characters as you read them on paper. There’s nothing like holding a book, or in my case stuffing it into my face as I give out deep breaths because my brain cannot process what I just read. Spending hours flipping page after page is time not wasted. Inhaling words like they just took your breath away is an irreplaceable feeling. So many books, not just YAs, have allowed me to live, die, and resurrect a million times over. Whoever told you “you only live once” lied. Maybe they should read more often.