My Unnamed Friend

There is a girl I turn to in need: my unnamed friend. We talk about our concerns, our interests, and pleasures. She is increasingly dear to my heart: my librarian. I know, I know, why not ask her name? I’m afraid I missed that opportunity YEARS AGO. Anyway, so my unnamed friend tends to point me to YA fiction, so I thought today I’d start to talk a little about that.


My additional caveat is that she isn’t actually the librarian. When I first moved to town, she was just one of the first local library worker I met. I wasn’t sure we were particularly similar, in fact I know we aren’t, but I have to admit that she has steered me to some enjoyable books.

She tends to read YA fiction. I think she got into it again as her daughter was approaching that general age, reading ahead. I’m sort of the opposite end of the spectrum. I was a heavy, probably pretentious, reader until college swamped me, and then I read very little except when nursing little ones in wee hours of the night. (There were more years in between than I care to admit.)

Anyway, imagine my surprise to realize my former go-to books made me sleepy, but young adult fiction was right up my alley? (I chalk it up to one more step to bidding pretension goodbye!)

Enough about me. What draws my unnamed friend to YA? What keeps her there?

Going on the presumption that we Lutheran authors share at least a few inhibitions, wouldn’t YA be an audience we should consider? Now, by all means write novels for adults, if you’d like. However, it seems like a whole lot of adults are now sticking to young adult fiction anyway.

I wonder what the differences really are between general fiction and YA. Part of me thinks new YA is probably targeting kids for indoctrination. Tons of work normalizing what otherwise may make someone squirm. Of course, hasn’t general fiction been doing that, too?

I don’t think genres are better or worse than others, exempting porn. But, if there were more community among Lutheran writers, I’d like to think some of us could focus on genres that might otherwise slip unnecessarily away from us. Wouldn’t that be great?

To me, Lutheranism tangentially promotes clear communication, honesty, helpfulness, flexibility, and tailoring to need. On top of that, don’t we have a certain connection to underdogs and the neglected? Personal struggling, good and evil within, harsh realities: these are things we know and experience. I suspect those are things YA audiences embrace.

Also, if CPH is listening: you could always publish books digitally only to see if they’d sell! Publish some YA and elementary school fiction!

PS. Camp starts today, but I bet you can still join after the holiday weekend if you want to.

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