For the love of Young Adult fiction: A confession and a comeback.

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I blogged. I mean, I know, the date of my previous post is up there—some 5(00) years ago—but that doesn’t mean anything.

I know I wrote at least a dozen posts after that and never published them because somewhere along the line, I lost the plot. I was studying for a Masters degree in English Literature and blogging about Young Adult fiction. The two didn’t seem to go along. Or at least, that’s what my classmates indicated.

You can’t be studying serious literature and gushing Young Adult.

And I’m embarrassed to say, I listened. For a while.

It’s not that I stopped reading YA (How could I? Have you read YA? Those books are unputdownable, soul-fulfilling.) but I would read in secret and I wouldn’t talk about what I was reading. If anyone asked me what my favorite books were, I would quote the classics or something taken more seriously that wouldn’t make anyone frown or look at me with an expression that basically said why are you even doing a Masters in English Literature?

I let that get to me for a couple of years. Then once I graduated, instead of getting into further academics like most of my classmates, I worked as an editor for one of the big publishing houses.

Anyway, YA never let go of me, even though I tried to, you know, play grown up <insert eye roll>. On a side note, if playing grown up is pretending to like things you don’t, it’s incredibly boring.

I read and I secretly wrote YA, although I never got around to blogging about it, because life came in the way—a full time job, adult duties, and the default state of being perpetually tired.

Till, the pandemic.

I know, I know, the pandemic hasn’t exactly been the time to get creative (aside from the 500 baking challenges that took off early on). Heck, I couldn’t even get any writing down for three whole months.

I woke up one day incredibly bummed about the direction (or lack thereof) my life was taking, especially now that I was on self-inflicted house arrest since (yep, you guessed it) MARCH! I needed to do something, but not just anything. I needed those words back. I needed to not only fall into the magic of stories but find ways to talk about my immense love for them.

I decided to log on to my old Netgalley account and wow! The lists of all these books coming out in the next few months and in the next year bowled me over. These were incredible books by incredible authors.

YA publishing is currently having a renaissance moment, with diverse and own voices stories finding their own space and getting into the hands of readers who’ve never seen themselves represented on the page. Like, me. If you go through my review index from my old blog, you’ll notice there are hardly books by authors of color. Because there were hardly YA books by authors of color. Or even if there were, they weren’t promoted enough to be accessible to someone outside of the United States like me.

Angie Thomas‘ 2015 debut THE HATE U GIVE (that I could get my hands on in 2016) showed publishers that if given the chance, books by BIPOC authors sell, and how! It’s been on the NYT bestsellers list for every week since it came out.

For the first time, in 2020 (of all years!), in the history of fiction, a book featuring trans (that too, trans Latinx) characters written by a trans author has made it to the New York Times Bestseller list (2 weeks and counting). That book, CEMETERY BOYS by Aidan Thomas, happens to be YA too.

There are SO many books. SO MANY to read and talk about.

I wanted in on that.

Reading is the only thing that has kept me sane this year. Reading is the only thing that helped me get anything written this year, made me want to write more, and better.

And by reading, I mean reading YA.

I love how it’s a time of firsts, a balance of both innocence and darkness, how emotions are heightened, and how, at the end of the day, there’s still hope.

I started blogging the first time around because I wanted to tell the world about my favorite books so everyone could read them, because honestly, if you’re here I’m sure you’ll agree—what better thing exists than reading?

This second time around, I’m going back to the basics. I want to talk about these wonderful books and hope that you’ll want to pick them up and somewhere along the line you’ll find something that speaks directly to you, because that’s the incredible power of stories.

So here I am. With a brand new blog (although should you go looking, you’ll find my old posts from my previous blog imported here) and a lot of hope.

I have a lot of exciting things planned for the next few months that I cannot wait to share with you. I hope you’ll stay.

Pick up that book. Pour in some chai.

I’m Bidisha. Welcome to Chai and Chapters.

PS. If you’re looking for mini book reviews and some book aesthetics, you can also follow me on my brand new bookstagram. 🙂

14 thoughts on “For the love of Young Adult fiction: A confession and a comeback.

  1. I just happened to stumble upon this post while looking for more bloggers to follow, so first of all welcome back! Second of all, it sucks people judge others on what they like to read, because in the grand scheme of things, who really cares? As long as they enjoy what they’re reading, does it really matter in the end?
    Anyways, it’s been awesome seeing more diverse stories pop up in YA, and it’s definitely reignited my love for reading. Awesome post, and happy reading 😊

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    1. So nice to meet you and thank you for dropping by! You’re right. It took me a while to understand that (when you’re younger it’s hard to see that) but honestly, I wish the elitism and snobbery surrounding YA would stop. I’m very excited about the changes YA is undergoing and I hope we move toward more diverse voices.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it’s definitely hard sometimes to be okay with your interests when people have something negative to say about them, especially when you’re younger. Some people just aren’t into YA, and that’s fine, but there’s no need to look down on those who do. Especially when there’s books such as Six of Crows, The Year of the Witching (this one is debatable about whether or not it’s YA) , and SJM books which are kind of “cross over” books, that although are deemed YA, are considered for older audiences 🤷‍♂️ There’s so much more nuance in the category than some people are willing to give it credit for.
        I also hope the push for more diverse voices continues, and hopefully with the recent success of many new books from diverse authors give a signal to publishers to give more publicity to these stories, because they do sell.
        Sorry for the longish comment haha I a few thoughts on the topic 😂

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      2. I totally appreciate you leaving a longer comment because these are the kind of discussions that I want to have here. I’m 100% with you on the fact that there’s so much nuance in YA, but the elite literary class of people will more than willingly dismiss the entire category for catering to young people. It’s almost a systemic cultural thing to disregard anything that teenagers give importance to. And yes, older YA and NA are often crossovers and they have their readers and people should recognize that. At this point, I’m very pumped about the new book deals coming out because I’m seeing a lot of diverse voices that I wasn’t seeing even 3 years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree with it being more of a broader issue, as it reminds of how with music, bands that are typically geared towards younger girls are deemed not as… I guess the best way to describe it is “good” as opposed to other bands (Especially with cases such as One Direction vs. Harry Styles as a solo artist).

        I’ve been doing a lot of research recently about banned books, and the shift in more diverse voices has also led to a shift in reasons books are being challenged/banned in schools and libraries (at least, that’s the case here in the United States). Back in 2015, the American Library Association posted about the shift in the role librarians play when it comes to the community. Specifically in this post though, they discuss how about 80% of the books on the Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books in 2014 were focused on diverse authors and books that focus on more cultural content.

        (If you want to read it, here’s the press release: http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2015/04/new-state-america-s-libraries-report-finds-shift-role-us-libraries)

        It will be interesting to see, with the increase in publishing diverse voices, how this affects book challenges and bans, especially as from what I’ve seen on Twitter, there have been librarians and teachers wanting to bring more diverse books into the classroom. The optimist in me says that the exposure may help with the issue of book challenges, but the realist in me says that that probably won’t be the case, especially with the current state of the U.S. 😅

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, people judge too much. Like the same way people judge graphic novel readers as not being serious readers! I’m so glad you dropped by. Thank you for your thoughts. 🙂

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  2. I look forward to seeing your posts. By time I finished uni I had stopped reading YA but started again when I started my teaching course and had to read a range of YA and children’s books before I started the course. I’ve read YA and middle grade since. It has been great to see a wider range of diverse books being released in the last few years, I was recent;y looking for books with disabled characters but have still found those difficult to find.

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    1. You’re absolutely right. There’s a lot more diverse voices now but still much less than the straight, white, able voices we’ve come to see as the default. And books with disabled characters are very hard to find. The only YA I can think of is OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS by Krystal Sutherland. Maybe this list can help but I’m not sure if the main characters are disabled: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/disability

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