One of the reasons I began blogging is because I used to review KS3 books for Hodder and write teacher resources to go with them. As a result I discovered a whole world of children’s and young adult (YA) books. However, some of my reader friends tell me they don’t read YA books because they won’t be ‘good enough’! I know that is absolutely mis-guided so I invited Clare Littlemore, author of the YA novel Flow, onto Linda’s Book Bag to tell me what she thinks on the subject. The only reason I haven’t read Flow is because my TBR pile is so high!
A world in tatters. A society where rebellion is not tolerated. A girl desperate to discover the truth.
Sixteen year old Quin lives in The Beck, a saviour society. Her community has risen from the ruins of a land shattered by Mother Nature. But Beck law is tough. Quin knows that the rules must be followed in order to sustain life in a place where floodwaters constantly threaten existence. A single violation could land her in Clearance.
But some laws are harder to follow than others. And as Quin discovers the horrifying truth, she knows she cannot stay silent forever.
Flow is the first in a series of books about a group of people struggling to survive after their world has been annihilated by devastating floods.
Warning: contains violence and some upsetting scenes. Recommended for a 13+ audience.
What’s in a Name?
A Guest Post by Clare Littlemore
I love Young Adult literature, and I’m proud to admit it. That said, it’s a difficult category to define. Unlike horror, romance or thriller, a YA book can be on pretty much any topic you’d care to imagine. The only thing tying books of the genre together is their target audience: teenagers between the age of thirteen and eighteen. And the fact that, in reality, they are read by many people outside that age range, yet many adults won’t admit to reading them due to their ‘YA’ name.
Let’s consider that. I know a ten year old who is mature enough to manage some YA books. And I know a few fifteen year olds who are possibly not. As for me, well, I’m forty one. And I’m far more likely to turn to a YA novel than I am any other genre, because I think a good YA novel is written with honesty, and with the harshest critics in mind.
Teenagers are nothing if not honest. When I began writing the first in my dystopian YA series, Flow, I wasn’t originally aiming at teenagers. The book is set at an unspecified time in the future, where the world is hugely flooded and the citizens living in my society are struggling for survival. Flow has been read and enjoyed by readers of both gender between the ages of eleven and seventy. But of all the people who have read it, the teenagers were by far the most inquisitive, the most engaged, the most interested my world, taking it not at face value, but digging beneath the surface, questioning elements of the nightmarish dystopian future I had created and demanding answers.
I recently ran a couple of creative writing workshops where the young adults in attendance made me consider things about the world of my novel which I had honestly never contemplated. Afterwards, when I went home and continued writing the sequel, their questions were ringing in my head, and made me consider the books in a different light. As a high school teacher, I should have known that teenagers would be engaged with the minutiae of the book in a way that adults rarely have the time or energy to be. That’s why YA books are so enthralling: they have to be.
I have had many adults read Flow and state ‘It wouldn’t be my usual genre, but I really enjoyed it.’ It made me wonder why they wouldn’t have considered a YA book before, but I suppose there is a kind of stigma to admitting as a fully grown adult that you enjoy YA books. I have stated myself in the past ‘I love YA books!’ and then followed it up hastily with ‘because I’m such a child!’ Yet why should I have been embarrassed to admit I was enjoying what was a truly brilliant book?
Because the title of the genre is very misleading. I was discussing this with a friend the other day, and she said she felt the YA genre was capable of bridging the gap between parents and their teenage children, encompassing books which could be enjoyed by both generations. Not books which parents read to young children when helping them learning to read, but books that are entertaining and engaging to both child and adult. This type of book often forges a connection at a time when teenagers might find it difficult relate to their parents.
Book are powerful. I have always felt this. A good book can stay with you throughout your entire life. And the shared experience of a book can be magical. The ten year old I was referring to earlier is my son. He has just begun to read suitable YA books which I have enjoyed in the past, and in discussing their contents we have discovered a whole new side to our relationship as the shared experience brings us closer together. He questions parts of the books I never did, and in a way which only a young adult could, and that’s what I love about the age he is entering.
That’s why I’m proud to say that I read and write YA fiction. And I’m really looking forward to the day he recommends a YA book of his own for me to read.
(Fabulous Clare. I agree with every word and as an adult approaching 60 I love YA fiction!)
About Clare Littlemore
Clare Littlemore was born in Durham, in the UK. Her parents were both teachers, and she grew up in a world surrounded by books. She has worked for most of her life as a teacher of English at various high schools in England, where she has shared her passion for books with hundreds of teenagers. In 2013 she began writing her own fiction. Clare lives in Warrington in the North West of England with her husband and two children.