11 Feb

Introducing YA Cafe

Posted in Community, Teen Lit, YA Cafe

Welcome to YA Cafe, a place where book lovers can gather and chat about teen literature.  I’ll be your barista, along with Ghenet from All About Them Words.  Each Friday we’ll pick from a menu of topics and share our thoughts on our respective blogs.

The fun won’t stop there, though.  We’ve got plans brewing for interviews, events and even some exciting giveaways!  Join the discussion by sharing your thoughts in the comments, on your own blogs or on twitter using the hash tag #yacafe.

Today’s Special: Why do we love teen literature?

The easy answer would be to say “um, because teen literature is AWESOME” and leave it at that.  But the point of these YA Cafe discussions is to move past these easy answers and dig deep into what’s really important.  The truth is, I owe that classic The Catcher in the Rye* for my love of teen literature.  This book sparked my love affair with YA, not because I loved it, but because was the first book I ever read that made me truly angry.

*Note: Technically, Salinger’s novel is not YA because it was originally written for adults, but it captures the teen voice so well that it has been adopted as part of teen literature.

When I finally read this book in eleventh grade, I was just about the last person in my grade–no, the whole planet–who hadn’t read it already.  Everyone raved about how amazing it was and how they either wanted to marry Holden Caulfield or be him.  I’ll admit, I enjoyed the first paragraph or so, but right around page two I started hating Holden.  Yes, you heard me right: I hated him.  It was a visceral hatred, an emotion that had hitherto been reserved for only the worst things in my life: Phys Ed, my arch-nemesis and cooked carrots.  But now, here was this fictional character–this whiny little pissant–lodged firmly in that category of all-that-is-evil-in-Gabi’s-world.

The more I read, the more I wanted to slam the book shut and use it to smack Holden Caulfield upside the head.  And yet I kept reading.  Secretly, I hoped somewhere along the story, Holden would get run over by a cement mixer.  (Spoiler Alert: He doesn’t.  I was gravely disappointed.)

But what does this have to do with why I care about teen literature?  While other types of books might transport me somewhere magical or teach me something valuable, teen literature is the only type of book that can elicit this level of emotion.  Reading Cather in the Rye and hating Holden made me realize what amount of a character’s crap I’m willing to forgive, and what crosses the line to something I will not tolerate.  There are two types of people in the world: those who think Holden Caulfield is awesome and those who hate his guts.  I’m one of the latter.

Hi, my name is Gabi and I love teen literature.

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Fellow barista, Ghenet at All About Them Words, shares her thoughts on her blog.  Check it out, then tell us why you love teen literature.


Comments on this post

  1. Ghenet says:

    I love your answer! I laughed out loud at you smacking Holden upside the head with his own book. Ha.

    Teen literature never fails to elicit emotion in me. It's because I connect with it more. 🙂

    1. Elizabeth says:

      I too hate Holden. That must be why we're friends 🙂

      (Sorry for deleting- there was a typo- it was going to drive me crazy!)

      1. Sophia Richardson says:

        When I saw that you "owe[d] that classic The Catcher in the Rye* for [your] love of teen literature" I almost ran. I'm glad I actually read what followed because man, I am with you in the Holden-hating camp. Confession: I didn't finish the book. I couldn't stand the kid's pitch perfect teen angst. It's great that he has voice, but when your voice so accurately hits the teen angst note on the head (what we would now call 'emo'), it's hard to keep reading. I definitely agree that it was very, uh, emotive writing!
        – Sophia.

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