I’m 25 years old. I am too old for YA books. What do I have in common with these 15-17-year-olds who think they’re adults and have experienced the real world?
Or that’s what I thought. I don’t know why I was so against YA. I guess I had (still kinda have) this perception of YA books being only about annoying, privileged, suburban kids trying to “survive” high school or some dystopian society where [white] teens run everything and mysteriously there is a lack of adults. And don’t forget the grand romance between two humans drowning in puberty hormones and a half-baked frontal cortex. Maybe because those were the books I read growing up a lot (except Sarah Dessen and Ellen Hopkins. Those kids were privileged and suburban, but dealing with drug addiction, relationship abuse, or sex trafficking).
I have read YA books intermittently in the past few years. I enjoyed The Hate You Give and American Street. I even read a book for youths (on accident actually) called Ghost Boys. I still finished them thinking that these books still lacked the adult realism and complexity I’m now used to.
Then I read The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. I thought it was cute and charming and it had a certain level of sophistication I haven’t experienced in YA, or at least that’s how it read to me (I think it was the back stories of the adults woven into the narrative of the protagonists). Natasha felt very adult to me because she was trying to deal with real (and not fantasy or sci-fi) adult problems. Daniel was a little immature, but he also seemed like an old soul.
The book was definitely a hormone drenched, impulsive decision-making romance that at times made me roll my eyes, but the ending, which I will not give away, showed the complexity of human relationships and didn’t do this magic wand, happy ending, cop-out.
The points-of-view from the side characters (who were mostly adults) enhance that feeling of relationships are not all rainbows and butterflies like many other YA novels. I think the most complex romantic relationships in YA novels are limited by tropes like killing off one of them or giving them a terminal illness (in which they usually die) or something like that. Death and dying isn’t the only thing that can test or break relationships.
At the end of the day, this book is about love being science but also magic. The ration of science and magic was excellently proportioned.
I really liked the movie Everything, Everything also based on a Nicola Yoon book. I also thought it was cute and charming, but it did not have that same level of sophistication. I tried to read (well, listen to) the book, but it was uber (don’t you love my hip, teen lingo?) cheesy and I didn’t make it passed the first chapter. I’m nervous, but I think I might have the opposite feeling with The Sun is Also a Star where I’m going to think the movie is cheesier than the book. Usually the book is better than the movie anyway.
But on the real, where was my poet boy like Daniel growing up? *swoon*
Any more sophisticated, dairy-free (get it? Like not cheesy??) YA recommendations? Let me know in the comments!