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. 🙂