Remember those late nights flipping through library books on your bed at one in the morning? Remember pretending to be asleep when your parents came in to check on you, then going straight back to your book once the coast was clear? These are the very vivid middle/high school memories that I have long associated with my readership of young adult (YA) fiction novels. Nothing was as intensely captivating as a YA fiction novel back when I was younger. I’d wager that there are plenty of other people who feel the same. Just recently, I have fallen back down the rabbit hole and have been devouring YA fiction like I’m once again 14 years old and going to bed early is uncool.
Now, what exactly makes YA fiction superior to all other fiction? First and foremost, it’s easy on the brain. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good peer-reviewed journal just as much as the next person, but sometimes my brain wants to play it nice and easy. But don’t let an easy read fool you. These books are just as rich and full of incredible storytelling as anything you could ask for.
The book in particular that reeled me back into this delightful world of my middle/high school self was It’s a Mall World After All by Janette Rallison. The book centers around a high school girl named Charlotte who works at—you guessed it—the mall. She’s a perfume spritzer, and according to my sister whom I also forced to read this book, not a very good one. In the midst of her shift, she happens to catch her best friend’s boyfriend hanging out with his best friend, Colton, and getting too close for comfort with a few other girls. This launches our heroine into action and sets the story in motion. As she attempts to catch him cheating, Charlotte is caught in a whirlwind of events, and the clever Colton is there for the fun ride. Although my description may not do the book justice, you have my word that it’s a good time. Both Charlotte and Colton are exceptionally witty and well-spoken. So much so, that I began to question what I sounded like when I was in high school. (I can pretty confidently say that they were a good deal more eloquent than I ever was at that age.)
Overall, the book was just as delightful today as it was several years back. Granted, my opinion may be doused in nostalgia blinding my good sense. However, I’d like to think that the fact that this novel still holds up is a testament to the warm joy that YA fiction can bring.
I’ve since indulged in a plethora of YA novels both old and new. I’ve also begun to advocate for friends and family alike to follow suit. Toss aside your copy of War and Peace and replace it with a book suggested for 13-17-year-olds instead. Trust me, after a couple of years of textbooks and college essays, nothing feels quite as good as a cute, quick read.