One of my work friends asked me what I was reading this week, and when I told her, she asked about the story.
“It’s a YA-” I started.
“A young adult nov-”
“You’re not a teenager! Don’t you read anything real?”
Instead of telling you about the argument that therein ensued (especially since I write YA), I thought I’d put together a list of my favorite non-YA reads. I’m a diverse reader, and if someone wants to branch out, these are some of my favorites!
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett – This book I’m sure needs no introduction. But just in case, it’s a story following primarily three women in the 1960’s – Skeeter, a 22-year-old white woman and recent college graduate; Aibileen, a black maid raising her 17th white child; and her best friend, Minny, a maid who keeps losing jobs because of her sass. The three narrators are distinct, and the language is beautiful. I fell in love with these characters, earning it a spot on my “Favorites” list on Goodreads.
Little Earthquakes, by Jennifer Weiner – This author is one of my guilty pleasures. I adore pretty much everything she’s written, and she has an autobiography coming out in October that I am very excited to read. But Little Earthquakes is easily my favorite book she’s ever written. Her copy on my shelf is old and water-damaged, having traveled with me from college to my apartment and now to my house. It’s about “three young women finding friendship against the background of new motherhood.” The author put so much work and detail into the entire cast, but I really connected with and loved Becky most of all.
Terms of Endearment, by Larry McMurtry – I went through a McMurtry phase and read/collected all of his books, but this is the one I remember the most. I had a Word doc collection of quotes from this story. This one is one of my favorites, and I always think of it when I’m about to make a scene, which happens more than I would like to admit:
“None of us want a scene.”
“Why, I don’t expect you do,” she said, “but the fact is I have already made one. I was brought up never to flinch from a scene when a scene is called for. All that remains to be determined is the extent of the scene I shall make.”
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells – This is one of those books that I’ve read over and over again, like Little Earthquakes. I read it once when I was pregnant with my first daughter, and I ended up naming her Vivian, after Viviane Joan Abbott Walker, one of the main characters in this book. I have a soft spot for strong, outspoken southern women (like myself), and this book called to me from the get go.
One Day, by David Nicholls – I have a harder time explaining my connection to this book. It follows the relationship between Dexter and Emma on July 15th of every year. “Twenty years, two people, one day.” It’s a beautiful, realistic love story, and the ending just about killed me. Some reviewers are mad at Nicholls for it, but I get it, and I love it. Read at your own risk.
If you can’t tell, I have a penchant for character-driven stories with strong women at their centers, which isn’t so different from what I usually read and write, only with a younger voice. Target age group doesn’t make a story more real. What makes it real are the characters and how the reader relates to them, and how they grow and overcome obstacles as the story progresses. I’ll keep reading and writing what I like, and encourage everyone else to do the same!
Until Wednesday, <3 Cassidy