YA Today: IMO (Mary Strand)

This month at YA Outside the Lines, we’re talking about the world of YA — or young adult fiction, in case you stumbled upon this blog by accident and were wondering why I’d say “ya” instead of “you.” (I wouldn’t.)

But I digress.

What is YA? And what would I change (if I could) about the genre, the industry, or myself as a YA author?

Loosely speaking, YA is about the lives of teens. But it’s hard to reach agreement even on that, which is why there are so many online debates about whether Harry Potter is middle grade or YA. The seven books in the series take Harry from age 11 to age 17: thus the debate. I’d call the series overall YA, but others insist it’s middle grade. Since Harry faces the death of others and/or himself in every single book, I’m solidly in the YA camp.

But, yeah, no one can agree. And why do they need to?

What would I change about the genre, the industry, or myself?

1. The genre, like all genres, evolves over time. It will change with the authors and readers. Not my issue, but I do think more adults should read YA. You’re missing some seriously good fiction.

2. The industry needs more agents and editors who want to represent or buy MY books. This would pretty clearly benefit the world, right? Anyone? Bueller?

3. What would I change about myself? Like the YA genre, over time I’ve evolved and continue to evolve as a writer. So I’ll go with evolution for 500, Alex. In every way imaginable.

What we weren’t asked for were some YA books we like. Here are a VERY few, partly because I saw them on a list and knew I could personally recommend them, and partly because they demonstrate the wide range of books considered YA.

I’ll include book covers to make this pretty, but in utterly random order, and I know I’m missing some major loves, so this is truly just a tiny sampling:

• The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton

• Forever – Judy Blume

• The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot

• The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins (but book 3 was too dark for me)

• The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – Ann Brashares

• Speak – Laurie Hulse Anderson

• 13 Reasons Why – Jay Asher

• The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

• Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras – Mary Strand (see what I did there?)

YA is whatever you want it to be or think it is. Just go read.

Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her at marystrand.com.


  1. Sooo many great titles. These bring back so many feelings--like a favorite song.


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