In the News: Diversity in YA

When I first read this article in Bustle, complaining that ‘Time’s “100 Best Young Adult Books” of All Time Is Very White…and Not Very YA,’ I had mixed reactions.

On one hand, as a non-white reader, it does occasionally bother me that most of the popular books feature white protagonists and growing up, I read maybe two books that related to the Indian-American experience. On the other hand, I want my best lists to be colorblind, for authors and their books not to be on there to fulfill a racial quota but because they really are the best. And with white authors dominating the market for the last few hundred years, it’s not exactly surprising that some of those classics show up on the list (i.e. A Catcher in the Rye, Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, etc).

It’s a popularity contest and the aforementioned classics have proven themselves by lasting. The most important thing to me is that now you can find diversity on the shelves where you couldn’t before, even when you’re not particularly looking for it. As these books are promoted and popularized, they’ll take over these lists, regardless of who creates them.

More concerning for this list’s authority is that it lacks definition behind “young adult.” Some of these titles seemed middle grade, others what I would consider young adult (high school and early twenties), and a few more I would think of as adult, such as Lord of the Rings. I can think of great authors of color in all three categories, but it’s harder to distinguish them when the field is blurred across age groups.

However, and most concerning of all, how the heck is the mindless drivel that is Twilight on the same level as To Kill A Mockingbird?! After discovering that, all points are moot because I’m not even taking this list seriously.

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