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More about YA literature
February 18, 2014

Did you have a good winter? Well, I am certainly glad that the chill is over.

Welcome, dear Book Lovers club member, to the February edition of the Book Lovers Club News. I need to apologize to you, Nita, for not responding to you earlier about your query on YA book recommendations. I thought this would be a good platform to address your query as many of our other club members are likely to have the same one. You wanted to know about prominent books in the YA category. I realized that the Printz Award is quite the most significant award for YA literature. I have always relied on award winning books (call me prejudiced, if you will) to create my personal reading list. Following the pattern, I will guide you to the list of Printz Award winning books for a good dose YA literature. You can find the list here.

Now while you are thinking about what to read in this youthful category, I want to share some common themes in YA literature. For illustrating these themes, I will keep referring to the Printz Award winner Looking for Alaska . And that is because, you guessed it; it is the only Printz Award winning book review we host at present, and thank you Manjushree for your lovely insights on the book. I will also keep referring to The Fault in our Stars. This is not a Printz award winner, but nevertheless is another best seller in the YA category by John Green. This time it is Erik Nielson whose mastery of language and critical ability we get to enjoy through the review.

Themes in Young Adult Literature

I Love Librarians This is not an exhaustive list, but is informative nonetheless:

Real Teen problems: Sex, drugs, drinking

This is an obvious one. We already know that YA literature deals with young adults. It is no surprise therefore that the story will, and rightfully should, revolve around teenage angst. Sex, drugs, alcohol are the top trouble makers for teenagers. So you will find these issues in almost all YA books. In Looking for Alaska, Miles Halter gets a good dose of these in Culver Creek. Sexuality, or romantic love, is a predominant theme in The Fault in our Stars. An offshoot of this theme is also a very real interest towards the opposite gender. The quest for romance does fill up a lot of our young adult protagonists’ time.

Family Relationships

Though adults are never center stage in YA literature, they do play peripheral parts in these novels. They are often portrayed as villains, or jerks and exert an influence in the young adult's life. In The Fault in our Stars, we have Peter Van Houten who influences the main characters in deep, meaningful ways. In Looking for Alaska too we have Alaska’s dead mother, who continues to affect Alaska even in her absence.

Journey/ Self Discovery

In most cases, our young adult protagonist gets to experience a physical journey in the book. Or in other cases, s/he experiences a metaphysical internal transformation through the course of the book. This is why these books are also called coming-of-age novels. In Looking for Alaska, our boy, Miles Halter, travels from a dull and boring Florida to an exciting young adult hub called Culver Creek in Alabama. In The Fault in our Stars, the two main characters, Hazel and Augustus, travel to Amsterdam where they experience several life changing events.

Book Review Circle gossip

I wanted to highlight a common misnomer used colloquially while addressing YA literature. It is often called a genre. But truth is, YA literature is simply that: literature which is written for the young adult readership. It is not a genre per say, because within the gamut of YA literature we can have thrillers, romance, satire, drama, comedy, and you know what not…

Book Review Circle suggested read:

I mentioned a good reading list at the beginning of this page and also picked out some thematic examples from two books by John Green. Take your pick.

Test your Literary Quotient

See if you know answers to the following:
  1. YALSA is a prominent body that promotes the cause of YA literature. What does it stand for?
  2. The title of The Fault in Our Stars is inspired by a famous line from Shakespeare. Any guesses?
  3. Name a very famous YA literature series in the fantasy genre


  1. Young Adult Library Services Association
  2. 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.' (Julius Caesar (Act 1, scene 2))
  3. The Harry Potter series of course! Our next edition of Book Lovers Club News will be dedicated to Harry Potter, so keep watching this space for more literary juice.
Do write in to me at with your comments, updates and suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you.

Ok. I will leave you to munch on that.

Happy reading till we meet again.


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