Someone asked me once why so many of the books I read are young adult. I'm not sure there's one definite answer for this. I think I've always enjoyed reading YA books but I vividly remember the book that really ignited my love for them.
In ninth grade, my English teacher assigned us to read The Face on the Milk Carton by Carolyn B. Cooney. Normally, anything a teacher assigns is automatically filed into the "this book will be boring" folder, but not this time. This time, I found myself holding onto the edge of my seat and flipping through the pages quicker than ever before. The suspense, the romance, the sheer mystery of the book was incredible. Once I reached the end, I had to know: Are there more books like this? Where can I get them?
Over the following years I bought all of the books in that series and loved them all. I've read them all several times and love them as much today as I did at fourteen. My own love of writing was well established by then, even if I mostly wrote angsty poetry at the time, but there is no doubt that this one book is a part of my writing history and a part of who I am as a writer.
So many people have this misconception that young adult books are only for young readers, that they can't possibly contain a thoughtful or mature subject matter. They just don't know how wrong they are. Young adult books are not only well written but they often tackle hard hitting and challenging issues that many adults are still facing themselves. Just because the main character of a book is fifteen, sixteen or seventeen years old, doesn't mean the book itself is going to be a shallow or easy read.
So how does that saying go? You should never judge a book by it's cover? Perhaps in this situation, we could say: "You should never judge a book by it's genre."
If I'd judged Carolyn B. Cooney's book by my first impression, where would I be today? Maybe I'd still be writing and maybe I'd still be enjoying young adult books, but I do know the journey wouldn't have been nearly as fun.