Until about a year ago, I hadn't read any YA books, since I was, well, a YA myself. Before I began this blogging adventure I would have never thought of looking for books in the YA section. What I've found since, is that when you look past all the vampire books (sorry, that genre just doesn't appeal to me at all) and books with sexy girls on the covers, there are treasures to be found in the YA section. I've read a couple recently myself.
Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls is the story of a young woman suffering from anorexia. I felt as thought I knew a fair amount about anorexia before reading this book. I did a science fair project about it in the 7th grade that was featured in the newspaper. I had a close friend in high school that suffered from the disorder. In my professional career, I've read doctor's interviews with sufferers and observed their behavior in the hospital cafeteria as they obsessed over food, threw some away and sometimes sat with their families in situations that can only be described as turbulent.
Despite all this, I didn't really know what was going on in the head of a person suffering from anorexia and what their families go through as well, and that is where LHA comes in. She has created a portrait of a young woman, full of self doubt and pain that exerts control over her life in the only way she feels she can, by starving and cutting herself. This is an intense and powerful read.
Another book I read was If I Stay by Gayle Forman. This is the story of Mia, a young woman with a joyful life who is preparing to make a choice. A choice between leaving home and going to Julliard after high school or staying home near her boyfriend who is a member of a local up-and-coming band. Suddenly tragedy strikes and Mia finds herself with a different sort of choice to make between everything or nothing.
Reading these books, and other YA books I've noticed some similarities. These books start with a bang. There's no meandering, get-to-know-the-characters in the first 50 pages as I so often find in adult books. By the end of the first chapter or even sometimes even the first page, the story is out there, we know where we're going, there is action and suspense from the get go. I understand this, I mean these books are being written for the ipod and text message generation, they want to just get to the story. This is also, I think, why I tend to not find these books completely satisfying. More likely though is the fact that I'm 'past' much of the subject matter.
I enjoyed both of these books, admittedly Wintergirls more, and will continue to read from the YA section when the right book comes along.