A mutual friend of the Toronto DWT contingent recently read a short story that I recently had published in a High School English text (how cool is that, BTW!). Midway through reading she looked up at me to say something like: I like how it's written as if it were for adults, not for kids.
I took that as a great compliment. But was thinking later about the surprise in her voice when she said that. This is a friend who doesn't read a lot of YA. If she did, I don't think this would have been a surprise. That is, I don't think I'm the only writer who writes YA but doesn't tailor the work "for kids".
And it made me realize yet another reason why YA fiction is gaining so many fans of late.
While the "New YA" books are about teens, most aren't written for kids. The language and writing style of the best YA's I've read hasn't been dumbed down because the target readers are teens. And why should they be?
I mean, let's face it, teens often read way more than adults (primarily because they're forced to for school) so even teens who are not fiction fans probably have better (or at least as good) comprehension levels as adults. In fact, teens might be slightly more sophisticated readers than your average adult.
Now, when I say that, I'm not comparing all teen readers to an avid adult reader. I'm comparing an average teen reader to an average adult reader. Comparing those two, I'd guess the average teen reads more fiction than the average adult, even if it's just stuff he or she has to read for class. And the voracious teen reader? Well, she's got more time to read than most adults and reads a lot.
So, it makes me think again: what was with all the YA books written in the past that used simpler language, or had easier ideas, or spoon fed information, or contained on-the-nose "lessons"? I mean... no wonder teens didn't read them.
And thank goodness for all the awesome teen fiction available today! I sure wish books like that had been around when I was a teen! Instead I read adult books that, while entertaining, had little in them to which I could relate.