YA Guy turns fifty today.
Yep, that’s right, I am officially at the half-century mark. Or to put this in YA terms, roughly three times older than the majority of the genre’s readers.
But that doesn’t bother me, you know? I’ve loved YA since I was a YA myself, and I love it still. Some things you never outgrow; some things grow with you, or you with them. In my YA days, the genre wasn’t yet recognized as a genre, and the books we might now consider YA consisted largely of the complete works of Judy Blume (all of whose novels I read, caring not one bit that some people considered them “girl books”). The genre’s grown, and so have I.
Because when you think about it, there’s always been YA. Way back when, there were myths and legends and folktales. (Still are, of course.) In the body of literature I’ve studied most intensively, the American nineteenth century, there were books like Little Women and Huck Finn. On my parents’ bookshelves for me and my siblings to devour, there were row after row of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries, along with classics like Anne of Green Gables, Misty of Chincoteague, Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, and The Hobbit. I never lacked books about spunky heroes and heroines going off on adventures, winning against unbeatable odds, and growing into the adult world of hard choices. I wouldn’t be YA Guy now if I had.
So being fifty feels a lot different when you’ve lived a life surrounded by YA. I love the genre for so many things: its originality and ingenuity, its compassion, its experimentalism, its glistening prose, its important and diverse stories, its moral clarity, its triumphant spirit. But I guess when I think about it, I love it for one more thing maybe most of all.
I love it because it’s YA that’s kept YA Guy young.