The hashtag #VeryRealisticYA is blowing up twitter. But I have a very big problem with the message it’s disseminating.
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.
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.
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But most importantly, they’re about dreaming big and never letting a downer hashtag like #VeryRealisticYA get in the way of those dreams.