I borrowed this picture from Jenny Han’s website: http://jennyhan.com/teen.html
Jenny Han was the author who first introduced me into the world of Young Adult books. When I was a teenager (quite a few years ago) Young Adult books certainly weren’t as big as they are now. I grew up with Harry Potter, which coincidently was the only book I remember at the time the ventured out of the children’s section into the adult world. Of course there were books for teenagers but with the exception of a few I never saw adults reading books for teenagers. Now we have such a fantastic selection of well written fiction aimed towards the teenage market that I struggle to want to read anything else.
For a long time the idea of reading young adult books didn’t even cross my mind. I had read Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging as a teenager and the thought of reading that again doesn’t exactly fill me with any kind of passion. At 27 years old I am fully beyond anything that teenagers would read, I am an adult fully incorporated into the world of adult reading, or so I thought.
Then I came across this book series.
I received the bind up of all three books for Christmas. Unlike the picture I linked above the bind up is a pretty white book (and a pretty large book) with bold flowers scattered on the front page and a spine with bold colours, each representing one of the books which I thought was a nice touch. If I was in a bookshop and this book was anywhere else but the teen section I would have been drawn to it like a moth to a flame.
So what did I discover? Belly (Isabel), the teenager I never was but someone who my inner teenager instantly connected with. Belly who spends her entire year waiting to go to the summer house of her mum’s best friend Susanna. She spends her summer surrounded by her brother and the sons of Susanna Jeremy and Conrad. She was the little sister, the friend, the annoying tag along girl until one summer when suddenly Belly turns pretty (or as I call it, puberty).
I, for one am glad my summers weren’t filled with the drama of Belly (who certainly brings some of it on herself) but I was compelled to keep on reading. I wanted to know what would happen to Belly and the cast of characters that became so likeable that I had genuine physical reactions to things they did in these books.
But why would someone over the age of 16 want to read this? Because I was a teenager once and this book made me feel every hope, every flutter of excitement, the scary realisations of growing up and the feeling of adventure when everything is still so new and wonderful. I genuinely became part of this book by reading this, I connected in a way that I don’t with a lot of adult novels. This wasn’t just a set of books, this was an experience. This isn’t just a summer read, this is THE summer read.