Most fiction contains some facet of human relationships, and most of the YA books I personally read explore complex, unique human experiences. Every single friendship is different. Through social media, watching television, reading, and our own experiences, we develop ideas of how we want our friendships and relationships to look. Some people want completely open, honest ones. Others choose more reclusive ones. Others have something in between.
I love getting different perspectives on the human experience through literature. For any of us who are thinkers, we have a tendency to second guess ourselves, including with the relationships we have and foster. This is why I enjoy getting out of my head and seeing into someone else’s.
How does this author/main character/person feel about their friendships and first/second/third loves? How do they deal with complex emotions and situations? Because for thinkers, there is never an easy, straight answer. There are multitudes of feelings surrounding different situations, and no single word would ever be good enough to summarize how we feel.
This is why books are so… delicious (for lack of a better word). They satiate the need to explore, figure out, ponder. They peel back the layers of human existence and put us into someone else’s shoes. They show us how situations can arise and can be dealt with in vastly different ways.
They explore differentials.
By exploring these differentials, we get unique and creative story ideas. Every author brings their own experiences to the table. Even when writing sci-fi, fantasy, or historical fiction, we still bring our own selves to the book. We imagine, define, and explore how someone else would feel in this situation. We force ourselves into a different perspective, and we transform the way we see the world.
It’s powerful. It’s daunting. It’s hauntingly beautiful.
When I was younger, I had the habit of assuming I knew who the villain was. There was an extremely defined line between black and white. As I grew up, I realized our own existence doesn’t give us room to be the villain. Think about it: in every situation that has ever happened in your life, have you ever said, “I was the villain”?
I’m not talking about the people who grow out of bullying or recover from alcoholism and make amends. I’m talking about the single, small argument you had with someone either online or in person, with a friend or a stranger. Were you standing up for what you believed in? Were you the hero?
My next question: Were they doing the same thing?
In The Collapse (sequel to Hipstopia), I told the book in the hero’s and the “villain’s” perspective. It becomes very apparent that Murphy doesn’t view himself as a villain. He tells a very different story, one where he’s the hero. And he is. He is the hero of his own story.
That is why literature is so important to explore the relationships we have with ourselves and with other people. Sometimes we are the hero. Sometimes we are the villain. We can also be both and neither.
The world is not black and white. There are too many perspectives, too many ideas, too many beliefs out there to have a clearly defined edge to anything. It’s gray, it’s hazy, and it’s incredible to see so many ideas about relationships, life, and the other facets of human existence being compiled into writing.
When people ask why I read Young Adult… I want to say something like this. I want to tell them how much coming-of-age stories can change our whole perspective on the world. I want to tell them how exploring new ideas and new experiences can make us more well-rounded, understanding individuals. I want to tell them how vastly important it is for me to understand other people’s perspectives.
Instead, I typically say they are good stories. Now, I’ll hand them a card with a link to this blog post.