I have a special Confessions post for you today, brought to you by Penguin Teen and Gayle Forman. Because of this, it's set up a little differently, but my thoughts and opinions are still represented.
So let's get to it. Today, I'm talking about darker themes and issues in YA books.
Hardcover Lover Confession on Dark Themes in YA Literature
If you take a look at many of the popular Young Adult novels out in the world, many of them are about darker themes. These themes may include mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, suicide, domestic violence, eating disorders, death, murder and many other diseases and illnesses that surround us all on a daily basis. This is a publishing trend that's been around for a while, and it's one that isn't going away any time in the future.
People often wander why readers, especially teenage readers, are so drawn to these types of books. The answer? Why not? Seriously... think about it for a minute. Aren't teenage readers capable of handling those heavy topics? The answer to that really depends on each teenager. But coming from someone who has spent a lot of time with teenagers, I know that these kids are dealing with many of these topics at school and at home.
It's so obvious then as to why they read these books if you really think about the world of teenagers. Some of them are reckless. Some of them think they are invincible, but in reality, they aren't. Pieces of adulthood really start to develop during adolescence, and teenagers are dealing with so much. Teens, especially teenage girls, become self-conscious, and some of them will sadly develop eating disorders. Bullying is at its worst during the teenage years. Car accidents happen, and some teenagers will lose friends. It's a tough world for today's teenagers, so why not let them read about these dark topics?
Books with darker themes and topics let these kids know that they aren't alone. If one teenager reads just one book that helps them, then these YA authors are doing their jobs. They are taking fiction and using it for good, and that is always a wonderful thing. YA novels that deal with darker issues really provide a starting point for teenagers to start exploring some of the things around them and in their world.
Let's let Gayle Forman explain, in a few words, why she thinks teenagers are drawn to darker books:
For more on what Ms. Forman thinks about dark YA books, please see this article that was published by Time.
As a teacher, I think these books are wonderful tools for kids to use. They might help someone deal with the death of a friend or a family member, like Gayle Forman's If I Stay helped me cope with my cousin's death years after it happened. I also think these books are something that kids can use to understand their peers who might be suffering from invisible or visible illnesses.
My YA Picks
Below, you'll find some of the YA books that I've read that are about these darker topics. I can't promise you that I've liked them all, but I've read them, and think that teenagers will appreciate the honesty in each book.
(Note: I haven't read I Was Here by Gayle Forman yet, but it's on deck.)
Confessions from Around the Blogosphere
I asked, and you came up with answers! Below, you'll find some picks from other bloggers and readers!
QUICK! Name some YA books with dark themes (mental illness, suicide, death, etc.) AND GO!— Erin (@xerinxlynnx) January 28, 2016
@xerinxlynnx all the bright places, more happy than not, playlist for the dead, 13 reasons why, made you up— Aila (@aila_1woaa) January 28, 2016
@xerinxlynnx we are the ants, some boys, it's kind of a funny story, all the rage.— Tina (@tina_bookworm) January 28, 2016
@xerinxlynnx Speak, Thirteen Reasons Why, Crank— Sarah Flood (@SarahFlood) January 28, 2016
@xerinxlynnx More Happy Than Not, Play On, My Heart & Other Black Holes, This Song Will Save Your Life, Forgive Me Leonard Peacock— giselle (@booknerdcanada) January 28, 2016
@xerinxlynnx Love Letters to the Dead!! That book was all too real.— emily (@PaperbackP) January 28, 2016
@xerinxlynnx The Reason to Breathe series— TM Hayes (@hayes_tm) January 28, 2016
What do you think? Do you agree that teenagers are drawn to darker books? Do you disagree? Why or why not? Seriously... let's get talking about this because it's really important! Feel free to let me know in the comments, but also, feel free to reply to any comment down there! I'd love to see everyone interacting with one another!
Also, feel free to leave titles of any other YA novels with dark themes in the comments. I know there are a ton more out there that we haven't mentioned. There's even some I've read that I've left out, so I'm really curious to see what comes to your minds when you think of dark themes in Young Adult literature.