Only 22 percent of young adult books are actually bought by teens.* The rest are bought by grown women. Why? As someone who scored an 88 percent on a “How Millennial Are You?” quiz, I think I’m uniquely qualified to answer this question. Or at least give you three possible reasons.
At some point, we all realize that we'll never have another first first kiss again. (This moment is usually accompanied with a big glass of red wine.) With YA, you get to live that pre-first kiss moment feeling over and over. While there is a time and a place for Fifty Shades of Grey (hint: not rush hour on public transit, please!), there is also something delicious about the buildup and anticipation of the first time that now only teen lit can give you.
One of my strongest memories of being a teenager is crying. I don’t remember any of the reasons but that’s the beauty of being a teenager. You don’t need a reason. When you grow up, though, you rarely have time, or space, for a good, cathartic tear-fest. There’s no crying when you’re Leaning In! Or out to dinner. Or when your child is having a tantrum over the very waffle they just begged you to make. So ride the emotional roller coaster with Katniss (Hunger Games) and break down with Bella (Twilight). Enjoy the mess. And if you get irritated with their irrational ways, just throw the book across the room. Note: in the case of a Kindle, simply angrily switch the screen off. Less satisfying but also less chance of breakage.
Remember when you saw Katy Perry with purple hair and decided to try the look yourself? Yeah, me neither. Because if you’re an adult, chances are you have a boss, or clients, or playground moms who might look at you askance if you show up sporting the latest hipster trend. That’s where blue-haired Karou (Smoke & Bone) and tatted-up Tris (Divergent) come in. As these heroines try on different looks, you can get the same thrill without shocking friends by stuffing your post-baby body into an inappropriately short outfit bought at Forever 21.
So put the “young” back into your “adult” world and spend some time with a version of your teen self. You get all the same fun but you don’t wake up with puffy cry-eyes in the morning.
*According to Nielsen Books & Consumers 2013
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