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Coming of age stories have always held a special place in my heart. When I was younger, they were me, both the good and bad, and in their pages I learned how to move ahead despite the difficulties I was facing. After all, I thought, if a character could fight vampires, or save the world from evil sorcerers wielding magical objects, how could I not make it through a regular high school Monday? 

Now, even though I’m no longer dealing with the usual teen struggles and the sun has passed me far more times than any young hero or heroine, and I’ve created a few YA readers of my own, I  still love reading a good YA book, preferably one with magic and mystery. Why is that? 

I think the reason YA still appeals so strongly to me is because it takes me back to the same feelings, and in some ways, helps me relive those “glory days”. While I can’t say I’ve ever experienced anything as exciting as the books I’ve read, I do remember every story that touched me and made me think, from those about the alien civilizations, secret stashes of Spanish doubloons, and even hidden caves I explored with Tom Sawyer and friends. While I may have grown up on a farm outside a quiet town, I can live vicariously through another MC struggling with situations in a city or another planet.

A good YA novel also makes us root for the main character in a way that we wouldn’t for a character who is supposed to be older and wiser. It’s like, “Of course they are having a tough time—they’ve never done this before, it’s all new.” 

Coming of age stories appeal to all age groups because we all continually experience new situations throughout our lives, whether we want to or not. But we allow our YA hero(ines) to be angry, petulant, dramatic, and completely overreact the range of emotions without tossing the book aside in disgust because they aren’t an adult. We expect our adult characters to be the better, cleaned up version of who we want to be. YA characters get to be us, flaws and goals naked to the world.

YA characters are also allowed to grow and change in a way that would seem ludicrous or ingenious in an adult character. (AKA, the ol’ a leopard never changes its spots) Change is fine for someone just beginning to learn who they are. They are allowed to go into a new situation wide-eyed without seeming fake, and do unexplainable, miraculous things. That time in our lives, the later teen years, is one where we simultaneously feel we will live forever, can achieve anything, and yet at the same time we are certain our life is over when our crush doesn’t know we are alive.

So, in essence, YA is about possibilities. YA is about feeling the emotions adults aren’t supposed to feel, have, or dream about. It’s about learning, change, and wide horizons. And the best, most well-known secret about reading is this— we can always fall back into a great story. When that happens, we get to live vicariously anyway we want to. When you are forever sixteen, the possibilities are endless. What are you waiting for? 

The books are calling, and it’s time to answer.

 

I’m a full time worker bee, mother, and writer by the wee hours of the day. I would write all the time if I had my way, but alas, life and family come first!

Somewhere in the last few years I’ve managed to carve out just enough time to write the trilogy that has spawned it all, based on a recurring dream I’ve had since my teens

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