So let’s talk. First, I have something to say to declare: YA books…can be morally complicated.
Wait…What?! I thought they were just trope-y, overused plotlines strung together by poorly pieced together love triangles!
Welll, I am here to tell you you’re sadly mistaken. In fact, one of my favorite things about YA is how morally complicated they are. How am I defining “morally complicated”? To me, “morally complicated” means that a story is complex and had themes and messages pertaining to not only morality, but also humanity. And contrary to a very popular belief, YA actually has moral and human complexity.
This topic is near and dear to my heart for many personal reasons, but first and foremost is this reason: I have anxiety and depression and the themes and messages of almost every YA book I’ve read have helped me learn and grow and fight another day. Because of YA, I learned what it means to be strong and brave, I learned that I can rattle the stars, that I am all the colors in one, at full brightness, that I can be brave, that even the biggest blizzard is made up of the tiniest snowflakes, and so much more!
This is why YA, and #MorallyComplicatedYA, is *so important*. AND this is the kind of life changing stuff that is already out there, sitting on the shelf of your local bookstore, waiting for you! And I beg of you, please pick it up because it’s so much more than just tropes and romance and overused storylines sitting there. There is a YA book for everyone out there, waiting to change someone’s life. If you look closely enough, you too could find the message.
Why is this so important? Because by discrediting YA and saying that it isn’t, or even that it can’t be morally complicated, we say that teenagers (and usually teenage girls) can’t be morally complicated and aren’t capable of morally complex thought. And they are. But when teenagers buy books that empower them, that show them they can be more, that show them how to be more, while also providing entertainment value, we criticize those teenagers as being young and naive. And that should never happen, especially at such an important stage of development.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again and again: all books have value. Whether textbooks or novels, YA or adult, gritty, realist contemporary or high fantasy. All books have something to tell us about humanity, it’s just a matter of looking closely enough. If you look hard enough, you will find it.