I usually try to alternate between reading Young Adult and Adult novels, though distinguishing between the genres seems a little silly to me at times. The only consistent difference seems to be that YA is always about teens, while adult literature is only sometimes always about adults. There’s a perception that YA is somehow less serious or “literary,” while in truth the variation in style, subject and quality is infinite.
I just finished the YA novel The Chosen One, by Carol Lynch Williams. It’s the story of Kyra, a 13-year old girl growing up in an isolated polygamist cult and doomed to become the 7th wife of her 60-year-old uncle. It’s a complex and heart-wrenching look into one girl’s struggle for truth and freedom—not usually what you think of as “kids’ stuff.” I could not recommend it more, to both adults and young adults. This is one of those YA books that is so powerful and well-written, I want it to serve as a kind of ambassador to the adult literary world. I’d like to include it in a gift basket to the skeptics, with a note that reads “Read these books. I dare you to tell me you still think YA’s a lesser genre.”
The thing that touched me most about this book is how much I related to Kyra, despite the fact that my world is nothing like hers. Kyra’s unique story illustrates how curiosity and the need for love and freedom are core human traits, regardless of how one is raised. It is books like this that remind us how alike we are, and how finding empathy for others despite our differences is one of the best displays of our humanity.