I’ve been reading When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle, and it’s making me think about how I relate to YA characters based on my own experiences in the high school hierarchy.
In high school, I was neither extremely popular nor extremely unpopular. I had friends that I would sneak into clubs with to go dancing, and friends that I went to Youth Group with. I had friends in AP classes, and friends in general classes. My friends and I were people that didn’t adhere to one particular label, which had its advantages and disadvantages. I was probably in every parent’s sweet spot — not getting picked on, and not bullying others.
When I read YA though, it is sometimes more difficult for me to identify with the instantly popular character. Popular with a dark secret? Yes – I can get on board with that. Pretty on the outside and troubled on the inside is interesting. It has layers. It becomes more relatable to the teenager in me, who floated between groups but at times felt the distance for not being so easily defined as a nerd, jock, popular girl, good girl, bad girl, etc.
One would think that I’m saying that I only relate to high school experiences in YA that match my own. But on the other hand, when I read Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, I always think, “God, this is the high school experience I wish I had lived!”
What do you think? Is YA segmented into books for the popular crowd and books for the counterculture? (Marketing-wise, I would say yes — but does that really relate to who reads them and why?) Do you relate to YA characters that match your high school experience, or do you prefer to relive high school in a different way through YA?
What I’m reading now:
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle