25.6.14

Talking about Young Adult and Middle Grade


I have a confession. I've always thought Middle Grade was for younger kids. When I saw bloggers with MG books in their hauls I used to wonder what sort of enjoyment they could gather from it. It was written for kids, so how could a fully grown adult think it worth their time?

I never thought of this in the context of YA before. Why wouldn't everyone want to read YA, it's awesome! It's not called YA because it's aimed at teens or young adults, it's called YA because of the age of the protagonists. It's really for any age, and any age can enjoy it. I hate reading articles about how adults should be reading high brow literature and adult books exclusively. The main point of reading is enjoyment in my opinion. If you enjoy reading award winning novels with amazing reviews go for it! If you enjoy reading the trashiest of novels with topless men on the cover, go for it! If you like reading any type of YA go for it. 

I think the problem with these articles is that the writers simply can't understand why anyone other than a teenager would read a young adult book. For the longest time I felt the same way in regards to MG, never realising it was the same as what these articles were saying in regards to YA, though aimed at another type of book.

It was only recently I made the connection and it was all down to one book. I got Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin at BEA. I had read a quick synopsis beforehand and thought it sounded interesting. I picked it up a few days ago for the first time since I unpacked. I was simply looking over a few of the books I got from BEA and noticed on the back it stated the book was Middle Grade.I was really annoyed at myself at first. Why had I not done more research before picking it up? I had no interest in MG and yet I would have to read it, I didn't want to leave a book I had gotten from BEA unread. I felt it was unfair to the publisher who had given me this book, and I had grabbed it with the intent of reviewing it on this site. I kept it with me and decided to get it over with and started reading that evening. It's a small-ish book and I thought I'd  get through it in a day or two due to the fact that I just knew I would be constantly putting it down because I didn't want to bother with it. 



I began reading and could immediately tell it was an MG book. The language was very stilted and simplistic. I realised after a page or so that the narrator has Asperger's syndrome, a form of high functioning autism. The writing started to make more sense and felt quite well done. I started to enjoy reading it but put the book aside to browse twitter and watch TV. Within five minutes the book was back in my hand, the story taking root in my head and refusing to let go. I found myself enjoying the story immensely. The characters are really what made the story superb. I adored the narrator Rose, who has a fixation on homonyms, rules and prime numbers. Her father, a man who couldn't stand that his daughter wasn't "normal". Her uncle, who it was clear loved her deeply and always seemed to know what to do when her autism caused her to be uncomfortable. 

I found myself lost in the story, unwilling to go to sleep until I had finished the whole thing, and as I cried, nearing the end of the story, I realised I had fallen head over heels in love with an MG book. This book had made me laugh, it had made me cry and had made me fall in love with it's characters. All this from a book written for children?!? It was then I realised that I was no different than the people writing the articles slamming YA. MG is not written just for children, it's simply written about them. 

This book completely changed my perspective on Middle Grade novels. I don't think I'll be reading much MG in the future (my love for YA overpowers all!), but now I really understand why others do. 

So maybe we should give the writers behind these anti-YA articles a break. After all maybe they just haven't found the right YA book yet.


If you're as excited about Rain Reign as you should be, then go enter the giveaway to be in with a chance of reading it early!

19 comments:

  1. Leigh (Little Book Star)25 June 2014 at 17:49

    I'm like you. Sometimes I get disappointed when I realize I picked up a middle grade book simply because my preference is YA. But then I read Harry Potter recently and that made me want to try reading other MG books like Percy Jackson.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've always felt the same way, though I've just never found a middle grade I thoroughly enjoyed myself. But, I grew up on Ann M. Martin and devoured everything she wrote, so I'm excited to try reading as an adult! I think it will be interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post! I too tend to shy away from MG thinking that it wouldn't interest me, but hadn't thought of it from the perspective of, "Hold on, I'm an adult (apparently) who reads YA, so why am I shaming?" I recently contemplated buying a 15 book Roald Dahl set because it was £15 and I sadly gave away my copies when I grew up, and I stopped myself because I thought it would be silly. I used to LOVE Roald Dahl when I was a kid though, so I think imma go buy me the set!! R x

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very nice post! If I'm being picky >.>, I might add that MG and YA books are geared toward a certain "audience" in that they are made to be accessible to that audience; to that end, MG books are kind of written for middle graders, but I know what you mean. There's no reason why adults can't enjoy MG or YA or picture books. As Mary Martin said as Peter Pan, "I won't grow up!" ;D

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think the label didn't mean that much to me because I spent a lot of my childhood reading books in that genre. I still have the books I read back then, and I know some of them were pretty shameful, ranging from Charlotte's Web to Barbie and High School Musical books. I want to groan at the the money I spent on the latter two because that was just some embarrassing buys.


    But I've read a lot of good MGs too, although they don't fly under my radar these days. I think Cornelia Funke's books are MG, and the first few books of Harry Potter would have to be MG. And there was also this book called The Peculiar and I think Eoin Colfer's Airman would have to be MG, and I enjoyed both books. I just don't care about labels at all much.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Not to be weird, but you're my favorite new person that I met this year. I'm hoping I can attend again next year so that we can hang out some more. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I don't like labels like YA or MG because people might miss a good book because they think it's too young for them! I read a lot of YA and have read some MG and even though they might be written to appeal to a certain audience, the stories were great! I would have missed out if I had followed the labels! So go by the stories and not by the categories...

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm a big fan of MG when it is well-written but still accessible to kids instead of being written down to kids with the strange assumption that they don't still want well-developed characters and an interesting plot. I'll be honest that I don't really feel like giving these article writers a break though. Instead I want to recommend them YA and MG that is likely to appeal to them while also expecting people writing articles to have done at least a bit of research about the topic that they are writing ya know?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Percy Jackson is really good, I loved reading them! But I think the problem is, I was much younger when I read them. I wonder would I still love it as much.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well I would definitely recommend trying this one. It was incredible!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I hope you bought them straight after typing that comment haha! I really think it's just about looking at it from a different point of view :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Be picky! I love that! I agree with you, but I think that some have subtle nuances children in that age group may not fully grasp from the novel. I think that this book, at least, could easily be read by an adult who doesn't enjoy MG. I certainly don't enjoy most MG but found a few gems as I was writing this post. I would compare this book to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Obviously the content is nothing alike, but there are certain things that a 7-12 year old wouldn't understand and the books can be really amazing reads for adults. But yes I completely understand and agree with you.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Me too! But I suppose I grew out of the genre and that just hasn't happened with YA. I have some embarrassing books too from my childhood, but I suppose the main thing is that I loved them and enjoyed reading them at the time! I loved the first few Harry Potter books and other MG books like Percy Jackson series, but I suppose that when I read them I was in the target audience. I don't know if I would enjoy them as much now.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think I might have noticed that haha! I think i'm still a tiny bit of a sceptic when it comes to MG. I now understand why people read it, but I still don't know if it's for me! I'll definitely check those out though and hopefully I'll be hounding you for more recommendations!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm defiitely going to have to take this approach in the future. I think one of my main reasons for not loving MG as much as I do YA is that I love romance in books. Even if it's just a tiny bit then I'm happy. Obviously most MG wouldn't have that much romance haha!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have to say, Rain/Reign is totally accessible to kids, but has some subtle nuances that adults will see. I don't like giving the article writers a break either to be honest. It's a bit idiotic that they have no problem trashing an entire section of books, and based on what? If you think YA is stupid even though you've never read it, then fine, whatever. But don't write an entire article trashing it! I really think if they just found the write YA or MG book for them (like I have here) they would be so much more open to these amazing books!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I did:D (im)patiently awaiting on their arrival!!

    My TTT

    ReplyDelete
  18. I honestly can't speak for this at all. . . I'm not that far from my MG years. I honestly still check out the section. Times are changing & I feel they're getting more mature than before. I'll check out Rain Reign.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am a 32 year old who reads almost exclusively YA, so those articles always tick me off. This post made me stop and think. I can't remember anyone ever writing a post about adults reading MG before. Interesting. Anyway, I am glad that you wanted to be respectful and read the book because now you will hopefully open yourself up to more MG in the future. I love MG. Granted, there are not a ton of MG's that I enjoy at my age, but there are absolutely some incredibly well-written, beautiful MG stories and I hope that you are able to find more and more of them! One suggestion: The Spellbinder series by Helen Stringer

    ReplyDelete