Young-Adult Fiction – A Good Story or a Morality Tale

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I’m a bit confused by the genre young-adult fiction. When I was younger I never heard of a specific group of books just for me. I read whatever I could get my hands on – my mom did draw the line when I came home with a trashy Mandingo paperback I found in a closet at a friend’s house. There were limits to even my mother’s idea that a kid reading anything at all must be a good thing.

Wikipedia defines this type of literature as: written about, for, and marketed to young adults aged twelve to eighteen.

I went on a search for books in this genre that I could download to my Kindle. I have been reading self-published books lately in the hope that I could write a couple of Amazon reviews. One good turn deserves another – I hope someday that someone might read my novel and give an honest review on Amazon. Because, believe me, that is the only type of review anyone would get from me.

I feel OK saying what I’m about to say on the public forum of my blog because I’m not going to mention any author or book title – no one knows how many books I’ve downloaded and read or how many reviews I’ve done. I’ll just say that I’ve read more than I’ve reviewed. That is because I will only give an authentic review and I will never name and trash anyone online.

Back to the idea of young-adult fiction – I’ve read three examples this past week. I know that’s not enough to make a definitive statement and believe me, that isn’t what I’m trying to do. I’m writing in an attempt to work through my own thoughts.

I believe young-adult fiction should be written for the same reason any good piece of fiction is written. It should be entertaining, it should tell a darn good story, and it should allow the reader to gain an insight of some type – either into themselves, other people, the world they live in, or the world that others inhabit. Two of the three books I have read seem to take a different approach from what I would call good fiction. Frankly, I’m not sure these two authors have ever known any young-adults and I’m fairly certain they’ve never actually listened to how young people talk. One is an attempt to jam the ideas that a bible thumping adult would like to hear coming out of a young person’s mouth, down their throat in the form of dialogue that anyone with even a bit of sense knows would never come out of a young person’s mouth. The other simply violated so many rules of good writing that I can’t even comment on the content.

The third book was a story I think I would have enjoyed when I was the suggested age for a reader of young-adult fiction. I would recommend this book and I’m working on an Amazon review.

I can hear people saying – hold it! What about morals and values and shouldn’t there be a place for books that promote positive values for young people. The tricky thing about that is this – whose positive values are we talking about? I’ve heard this kind of rationale before – I guess that’s where all the Christian rock bands came from. I don’t buy any of it – not with stories and not with rock and roll. A story that reflects a young person’s reality, that has young people speaking and acting the way young people do indeed speak and act, can promote positive values.

I believe it would be better to encourage young adults to read well written books that tell good stories and forget about promoting any particular brand of positive values.

Never forget – a story well-told can change a life and a thinly veiled morality tale will always be seen as just that.


(The top photo was taken at the University of Arizona in Tucson, of an art class. The bottom photo was taken on the Stanford Campus in California – just random shots of random people)