There’s a growing trend in young adult (YA) fiction: more and more of the readers are grown-ups dabbling in Neverland. While it’s clear that reading childhood favorites can bring us back to the past’s glory days, it’s a little less certain why bunches of adults are diving into the teen section at Barnes & Noble. Cosmopolitan asked author John Green what he thinks is behind the trend. Here is an excerpt of the resulting essay:
“For me, writing a book is like a very long version of that childhood game Marco Polo. I sit alone in my basement for a few years saying, "Marco, Marco, Marco, Marco," and then finally the book comes out. And if I'm lucky, people start saying, "Polo!" When writing my novel The Fault in Our Stars, I always imagined those people would be teenagers. My books are for young adults, after all.
But in the weeks after The Fault in Our Stars was published in 2012, I heard from more and more proper adults. They told me their kids had given them the book or they'd read it in book club or their friends had recommended it. Suddenly, the vast majority of my readers were grown-ups.
Ever since, I've been thinking about why stories about teenagers resonate so much with us as adults. I've been a passionate adult reader of YA fiction for a decade, and what I find so compelling about the best YA fiction is its unironic emotional honesty. When you're a teenager, you're often doing so many important things for the first time — everything from falling in love to grappling with heartache and loss. You also begin to ask the big questions of humanness: What, if anything, is the meaning to all this? What are my responsibilities to myself and to others?”