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Thoughts On: College in YA

College seems to be underrepresented in YA fiction. Considering how big a deal it is to most teenagers, you'd think there would be more of it.

I'm partly talking about just mentioning college at all. The age range for YA is large enough that you can have books with thirteen to fifteen year olds that aren't thinking about it at all. But once you hit sixteen, at least in contemporary, it should be mentioned once or twice.

One of the reasons I loved Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann, which I finished the other day, is that the main character's attempts to get into college played a part in the story. Even though it wasn't a main plot point, she worried about it like any high school senior would. She asked her friends where they were going and got excited when she got a letter in the mail. It wasn't huge, but it was there, and it made the story all the more realistic.

Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst takes place entirely on a college visit. It was one of my favorite books last year; I absolutely adored it. (If you haven't read it, go read it.) This was one of those instances where everything came together so well. You believed in the alternate Princeton as much as you believed in the real Princeton, and you were excited to see if Lily would be accepted early or not. It did a fantastic job of using college as a setting, even though it was a visit.

On the other hand we have Kindred by Tammar Stein (which I couldn't finish; I'll be doing a blog post on that soon) which is actually set in college. There's a sub sub sub sub sub genre of fiction called "new adult" which, apparently, ranges in age from 18-21 and would therefore take care of college fiction. I say bogus on this subgenre and stick it in YA with the rest of the YA stuff. Let's face it - we're still young adults. I'm 18 and in college and proudly a young adult. It's still very much a part of our lives - and even if we're not 18 or 19 and in college, you could be 16 and 17 and looking for insight into college. (Or, like Brent from Naughty Book Kitties, 15 and just freaking out over it even though it's years away.)

Right in the middle is the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty. I mean, the series is bloody brilliant to begin with, but within the series, Jessica grows up and leaves high school to go to college in the book. It's bloody genius. You're introduced to college and the life that goes with it along with Jessica. You get to grow up with her. I love that.

I'm not saying college needs to be in every YA book. Clearly it has no place in most historical fiction or science fiction and even fantasy. Even contemporary fantasy can get away with not mentioning it - I mean, let's face it, if there's magic or something fantastical in my world I would never worry about college ever. I'd be far too preoccupied. - but it's nice when it is mentioned, and I wish it was done more often. I don't care if the character is applying to schools or visiting schools or in college or grows up into college, but I want to see it.

PS: You'll notice that this is my seconds "thoughts on" post. It's nothing consistent or anything; I'm not going to be posting weekly. Only when I have something I think I want to talk about or will generate interest. Besides, if I talk about these things in real life one of my friends is bound to hit me.

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Thoughts On: College in YA + TIME