Now, I love the idea of using a hashtag to point out why we need more diversity in young adult literature. Because we do. And it is a conversation we should be having.
But #VeryRealisticYA has turned into a less than supportive conversation about the unrealistic expectations in popular novels and has instead turned into a bash-fest, full of disheartening messages that are a little vindictive. I know, it was hard when we realized our Hogwarts letter wasn't actually coming in the mail. But young adult literature serves a much bigger and more important purpose than #VeryRealisticYA is giving it credit for. And, as a young adult author, it makes me seriously sad to see some of these tweets.
Boy gets a letter at age 11. It invites him to take the PSAT #VeryRealisticYA— Colin Heasley (@ColiHeasle) March 29, 2015
She is a special, gifted child. She grows up full of self-loathing and impossible expectations. #VeryRealisticYA— Mara Wilson (@MaraWritesStuff) March 29, 2015
Two teenagers think they’re the loves of each other’s lives. They part ways and forget about each other in college. #VeryRealisticYA— Tu Books (@tubooks) March 30, 2015
Boy receives a letter written in green ink, informing him he is a wizard. His cousin, who wrote it, youtubes his reaction. #VeryRealisticYA— Micro SF/F Fiction (@MicroSFF) March 30, 2015
The only reason the main character decides to save the world is so he can put it on his college application. #VeryRealisticYA— John Hansen (@ABoredAuthor) March 29, 2015
Main character is chosen to take part in terrifying death match, has no secret skills except writing fanfic, dies first. #VeryRealisticYA— Tatum Flynn (@Tatum_Flynn) March 29, 2015
Girl politely declines to be the face of the revolution because it's junior year and she has too much homework. #VeryRealisticYA— John Hansen (@ABoredAuthor) March 29, 2015
All three books of a trilogy are condensed into one movie, because hey there’s not much story there honestly. #VeryRealisticYA— Andrew Shaffer (@andrewtshaffer) March 29, 2015
Instead of deciding to save the world, the heroine decides to binge watch something on Netflix. #VeryRealisticYA— Jon (@ScottReadsIt) March 29, 2015
And I understand and can appreciate the humor behind these tweets. I get the joke. But I also understand that within the joke there is a missed mark about the true meanings in young adult literature.
These stories are about proving that one person can make a difference. They're about fighting for change even when the cause may seem hopeless. They're about discovering what's worth sacrificing yourself for, and what's important and meaningful in life. They're about the true meaning of bravery and the never-ending self-discovery that comes with your journey. They're about realizing that we all make mistakes and yet, we accept them, move on and become better as a result. They're about first love and being open to the permanent mark that it will, no doubt, make on your heart. They're about the power of teamwork and friendship.
But most importantly, they're about dreaming big and never letting a downer hashtag like #VeryRealisticYA get in the way of those dreams.
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