The Truth About Me: Why I Read YA
(A high school revelation integrated with embarrassing pictures from high school)
Technically I know you don’t have to be a certain age to read YA, but in all honestly I’m sure that everyone is right to assume the intended audience is in essence a young adult/teenager themselves. Unless of course you’re a freak like me. I’m hoping not to tarnish my credibility by revealing that I haven’t been a teenager for over half a decade. So, why do I do it. Why do I read books that someone somewhere thinks I should have ‘grown’ out of years ago?
Truthfully, I’m trying to replace my horrendous high school experience for the stellar ones that I read about. Or really it might be that reading about other people that struggled in or had less than fabulous times in high school, make me feel less alien, even if they are fictional. I hated high school. Whoever said that high school years are the best of your life was seriously demented, they should be drug out into the street and shot. Perhaps that’s a little extreme, but someone should at least beat the shit out of them.
My high school experience wasn’t completely awful. But it wasn’t all that fun either. I wasn’t popular, but I wasn’t shunned by my classmates either. I was somewhere in the middle. I was quiet, shy, smart, but not smart enough. I never, ever want to go back and relive it, that’s for sure. But I had some good times, mixed in there. I just wish I had someone tell me, not to be so hard on myself. Not to care about what other people think. Because honestly, you won’t see any of those people after high school. I know when you’re at that point it’s easier said that done, but at least keep it in mind.
Once upon a time, on my thirteenth birthday I found out I was a witch! My parents were killed when I was very young and the crazy madman that killed them left this scar on my face. Now I’m on my way to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to meet my new bffs forever. Okay, so that wasn’t me, it was really Harry, but I really just wanted to play around with photoshop! I so would have been a shoo in for Hogwarts! I mean look at me! (That is actually a photoshop-ed picture of me on graduation day.)
Books help with self esteem. The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher was one of the first YA novels that I reviewed. And I completely related with Alice. I knew what is was like feeling like you were invisible to everyone around you. Of course I didn’t have a really cute bff like Jewel and I never dated any stud-ly football players… actually this one time I did go on a date with a football player, well actually I went to a school baseball game with him. He was in FFA with me, what a loser. He had one of my senior pictures so it must have been my senior year, and he was like “look at your cleavage”…. and when I turned wide eyed to look at his dumb ass, he said something along the lines of what beautiful eyes I had too, which I knew for a fact he told another girl. Needless to say at that time I hopped out of his truck and found someone to give me a ride home. I think I would have rather been invisible….But back to the novel and being invisible, I totally got that. I just never stood out, well to myself I never did. But just like Alice, I finally figured out who I was, or at least who I did and didn’t want to be. (This was a picture of me as a sophomore. I couldn’t find any from my freshman year…. do you like my braces! I had glasses too!)
Books can give you confidence. Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock was another book I really related to. I was a huge farm girl like DJ, and it didn’t help my popularity either. I didn’t live on a diary farm, but we had beef cattle. Which means the cows were raised for meat… yeah, I don’t eat red meat to this day. I wasn’t big enough to be a football player, but I was a swimmer. I had no eye hand coordination anyway… I mean what is that. (I would have loved to play soccer, I did in middle school on the co-ed team) I started swimming my sophomore year. I had no idea how competitive it was, I mean I showed up in my two piece…. I know, laugh it up. I still cringe just thinking about it today. I knew how to swim, and once I got the competitive part down I was actually quite good. I could swim 50 meters in around 28 seconds, I don’t remember my actual time. Swimming gave me more confidence, in the same way I think football did for DJ. (I can’t believe I’m letting people see this picture! This was my senior year in swimming right before I cut my hair all off)
Books can help heal. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen was a book I wish I didn’t relate to. I had a crush on, we’ll call him Dick, since the eighth grade. We sort of ran around in the same social circle, but I never saw him out of school, because I was very antisocial, this is where the shyness comes into play. Lucky me, our sophomore year, Dick and I became an item. It wasn’t bad at first. Actually it was a lot of fun. I had my first kiss among other things, but when drugs came into the picture our Junior year, I saw Dick gradually start to change. He wouldn’t call for months, and I wouldn’t see him except briefly at school. Unless of course, I wore something he thought was inappropriate or I said something that he didn’t approve of, then he’d be sure to find me. It’s easy to judge someone, and say why didn’t you just break up with him, but I was afraid. Our senior year is when everything went down. We had the same guidance counselor, I happened to help out in the office in my study hall, because I went to church with the office secretary. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who noticed a change in Dick, and she (our guidance counselor) was worried about me. I went shopping with some friends one weekend, Dicks cousins actually. But one of the friends (cousins) was a guy and on Monday my friend (Dick’s cousin) got his nose broken by Dick. That’s when everyone put two and two together (perhaps I wasn’t in such a healthy relationship) and I found the courage to get out. I have the best parents in the world, so don’t think they didn’t care enough to talk to me and ask me about my life. It’s not hard to hide things when you want to, and it’s easy to act like everything is okay. But ultimately, to look on the bright side of things, I think that made me a stronger person today. (I’m either a freshman or sophomore in this one, that is my 4-h goat Adam.)
Books can be your escape! This is my ultimate reason for reading YA! Not that you couldn’t read an adult fantasy novel, but I see myself displayed more in these characters. I mean I still feel like I’m 16! Why can’t I pretend that I am? Not saying that I want to be 16 again, but you understand what I’m saying, right? I want to be Eragon and be a dragon rider. I want to be Clary and find out I’m really a shadowhunter and that the hottie I was just kissing might be my brother. Maybe, I could do without the brother part. I want to be Phoebe and be a descendant of a Greek God! Dare I say that I want to be Bella and have my own sparkly Edward? (This is a halfway recent picture of me. I think it was taken last year on my birthday… or it might be from two years ago!)