Sometimes the future of YA historical fiction looks pretty grim, but this blog post gave me a lot of hope for the genre.
The author, a YA novelist/teacher, asked her students what sorts of books they do and don’t like, and what they’d like to see more of. Based on what’s currently selling in the YA market, and on the books I see the teens I know reading, I expected these students to endorse fantasy (especially vampires, given the current Twilight craze) and chick lit. I definitely didn’t expect so many of them to say they liked historical fiction.
I understand that this is a small sample of teens to begin with, and that the number of responses the teacher chose to include on her blog is even smaller. Still, out of eleven teens this author quoted, five of them said they like historical books. That number goes up to six if you include the student who enjoys nonfiction. Even if these responses don’t likely represent teens as a whole, they’re still much, much higher than I would have expected.
Furthermore, the things teens said they’d like to see more of can easily be included in any book, including a historical one. Realistic plots and characters, humor, romance…all of those elements transcend genres. And most importantly, it appears that teens want books that don’t talk down to them. Seems to me that they’ll be more than happy to pick up your historical novel—or any novel—as long as it speaks to them, not at them.
What do you think about the views these teens hold on YA literature?
Is there anything about this blog post—particularly in regards to historical fiction—that surprised you?
Melissa Luttmann is the YA Editorial Assistant for Wonders and Marvels. You can read more about her here: Editorial Staff.