Cynthia T. Toney holds a BA in art education and began her first novel while working as an advertising designer and marketing copywriter for a number of publishers. She enjoys writing both contemporary and historical fiction for teens. Also once a decorator, her articles on interior decorating appear at homeguides.SFGate.com. She has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and studying the history of the South, where she lives with her husband and as many dogs as space will allow.
Personal Blog: http://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com/
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/birdfacewendy?ref=hl
Young Adult Read Devotees
(And we’re not chicken.)
There’s been a fair amount of blogging lately about why adults read young adult novels today more than ever. Some of it has been less than kind. A few bloggers accuse adults who read stories containing a teen protagonist of being anything from uneducated to emotionally underdeveloped.
Fortunately, such criticism is balanced by plenty of support—not that we readers of YA need anyone’s approval. Nor are we afraid of a fight (in a battle of words, of course).
Like many adult readers, I enjoy any good story, whether the protagonist is age 10 or a multiple thereof.
Now that Bird Face, my debut novel for ages 11 to 14, is published, I’m hearing from many adults who’ve read it. I’d like to share with you why they appreciate it and why they read YA in general. Their reasons are some of the same ones I’ve had for reading YA novels all these years.
In honor of Wendy, the main character in Bird Face and an incurable list-maker, I present these reasons to you in list form.
- As a genre, YA is wide open. YA authors seem to take more chances, perhaps because they don’t harbor a fear that their manuscripts might not fit a certain definition, as with other genres. Readers will likely see more experimentation in the way a story is written.
- YA stories have some of the most creative plots around. They must, for their imaginative teen target audience. The plot is less about formula, more about fun. I’m disappointed when I can figure out how an adult novel will end. But as one adult reader told me about Bird Face, it kept her guessing.
- As a whole, there’s less chance of encountering graphic sex or violence. But a word of caution: Even among YA novels by Christian authors, there are instances of graphic descriptions of physical abuse, just in case you’re as sensitive to that as I am.
- YA novels pack a lot of entertainment into fewer pages. Everyone, young and old, leads a busy life. Sometimes we like to read a book we can complete on a short trip or over a weekend. And one that will fit comfortably in our purse or jacket pocket, if we prefer paper.
- Adult readers see their teen selves and sometimes their friends in the protagonist or one or more other young characters, but with an understanding of themselves and others they didn’t have at that time in their lives.
- They likewise understand a young antagonist better than they did a similar foe as a young person and are better able to forgive him or her if they haven’t already.
- By reading YA fiction, adults who have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or students find ways to reach and teach kids they care about. Stories trigger dialogue, and as one reviewer said of Bird Face, they “inspire self-reflection and positive change.”
So why limit ourselves to more mature novels just because a few critics who don’t appreciate the value of YA squawk about it?
by Cynthia T. Toney
Anonymous sticky-notes, a scheming bully, and a ruined summer send almost-fourteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud down a trail of secrets and self-discovery.
Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like her good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks—until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even her best friend, Jennifer, is hiding something. But the Spring Program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer, will Jennifer still be around to support her?
Using humor and offering hope, this story for ages 11 to 14 (grades 6-9) delicately addresses issues of bullying, eating disorders, imperfect families, and teen suicide.