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What Are The Biggest Misconceptions About YA Lit?

I wrote a HuffPost article earlier this year that poked fun at some of the common tropes in YA lit, like the parents always being MIA and how love triangles abound.

Even though the devices I listed are TRUE and I think it’s fair to poke fun at them, I really do love young adult books. They’re filled with poignant ideas, complex relationships and rich prose.

Plus, it’s kind of like complaining about your parents. ONLY you can do it, if anyone else badmouths them (hello, spouses), then the defenses are up.

It really annoys me when people make broad assumptions about YA lit based on one experience or what they see on TV and in the movies.

What Are The Biggest Misconceptions About YA Lit?

So tell me: what have you heard or seen about YA lit that you know is just not true? What assumptions do you think are spot on?

YA Lit misconceptions


YA lit is a HUGE genre with tons of sub-genres like YA fantasy and scifi (like THIS BLOG), contemporary, new adult, etc., so making broad claims isn’t only unfair, it’s also inaccurate.

For me, these are the biggest misconceptions that I hear and that annoy me the most:

1YA lit isn’t quality writing – By saying that “oh, this is for teens so the bar is low” is crazy talk. With more distractions than ever (smartphones, Netflix), the writing has to be that much MORE engaging in my opinion. Beside that, there are some beautifully written YA books out there. Anything by John Green, Lauren DeStefano or Diana Peterfreund. It’s literature no matter what label you want to place on it.

2YA lit is too dark and violent– While there are definitely some books that go over the top with gory details, they really are rare. Some YA lit books that include violence are YA fantasy and depict impossible things readers know are far from reality. I think this falls on parents to be involved in their teens lives and ask them what they’re reading. Just making sure to have this conversation can spare you the fear that news articles can create. Another thing to think about is that it’s not just books that can be dark – it’s movies and TV and video games. Let’s not harp on the one entertainment pastime listed that’s actually good for your brain.

3YA lit readers can’t handle regular fiction, hence why they read YA – This one I’ve encountered recently, and I must say, it really got under my skin. Yes, I’m an adult who reads YA. That does not mean I don’t 1.) read other genres or 2.) have the mental capacity to appreciate adult fiction. I like and appreciate all types of books, YA is just my main preference. I don’t know why this is a problem for some people but it is. I’m learning to smile and nod and go back to reading my Kindle.

Have you had a similar experience? What things about YA lit do people just don’t understand?

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.