These are the kinds of things that book bloggers would have done if they grew up together. But here you find us, kindred spirits uniting at BEA, playing MASH with fictional YA boys. All credit goes to Anna from Anna Reads for this WONDERFUL idea during some down time at BEA. I didn’t have any bookish friends when I was growing up and my sister most certainly did NOT share in my passion for reading and frequently made fun of me for having my nose in a book. Being at BEA (and having chats with book blogger friends who weren’t at BEA) made me wish that I had bookish friends…and especially that I grew up with them. Can you imagine the sorts of shenanigans we would have gotten into? Who knows…maybe I would have read HP as a middle schooler and had such a good time at release parties if I had crazy bookish friends! I sure know how much fun I had at BEA and felt like I was called home to the mothership or something!
And then growing up…going through the middle school and high school years…what would that have looked like? I thought about this A LOT today after a really fun conversation with some of my closest blogging friends — Jen, Ginger and Anna. We were chatting about what we were like in high school and if we would have all gotten along. I won’t tell you what they classified themselves as, but for me, I was the GOOD girl. I strived for good grades, I was such a prude despite ENORMOUS pressures and I didn’t really party. I would always toe the line and get close to “bad girl behavior” but would promptly return to Good Girl Land. This isn’t to say I was perfect…I did sneak boys over and drink on occasion and lie to my parents…but it wasn’t what I knew some girls were doing.
I keep trying to see myself in characters in YA, and while I see bits and pieces of myself from various characters, I don’t have one character that I wholly identify with. You know I see it humor-wise, how the approach relationships with parents and guys, etc. etc. I was complicated. I was that annoying sibling character that my sister, who would be the MC, would have hated…she would have felt overshadowed by my accomplishments and resented my Good Girl Status. I judged the “Bad Girls”…yeah I probably labeled them as sluts and the like. But I did grow up…I did. I learned A LOT. My mom got sick and I had to grow up. I learned a lot about finding kindness and friendship in very unlikely places…from people I might have written off. But I do know…I would have been a good girl in YA lit.
All that being said, all of this talk about how were in high school, made us all wonder would we have all been friends? Would we have come together in our bookish ways or would we all have been too different? Maybe now we can come together, as adults reading YA, only because we have lived through those times and have fully digested those experiences and issues? Maybe, while we were and ARE so different, we are able to come together as lovers of books but also as former teenage girls who all had the same core experiences — negative self image, peer pressure, pressures from other sources, wanting to fit in, etc. etc. Maybe THIS is why we read YA literature…because those core issues still resonate within us as women? I’ll tell you., even as a 25 year old, I want to fit in, I care about what people think, I am hard on myself, etc. etc. I have changed so drastically from when I was a YA but I don’t know…I think sometimes YA lets me stay close to some of the crucial points in my life that really helped shape me into who I am. That being said, as most of you know, I don’t exclusively read YA so sometimes I DO need to get away from that time and explore other areas of life and other worlds.
But I do have to say…all of my blogging friends and I…we would have had the most amazing time growing up together. Can’t you tell from how much fun we all had together at BEA?
So what about you? Even if you don’t read YA… Did you have bookish friends growing up? What were you like in high school? Are there any characters in YA that remind you of yourself? And for the YA readers, why do you feel such a connection to YA literature…especially those of us who are adults?