Countdown to a New Year, December 29: Erin Finnegan
From December 20 through December 31, Binge on Books will be hosting a series of posts each day counting down to the new year. Joined by authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers, this series will focus on takeaways from 2017 and what we can look forward to in 2018. Think the biggest, longest, most book-filled reflection of the past year and the hopes and dreams for the new one all wrapped into one: that’s Binge on Books’ Countdown to a New Year. Come see what your favorite members of the book world have to say about the past year and what’s up next for them in the year to come!
**Plus every day in the countdown will feature prize packs of ARCs and book giveaways plus a final BIG giveaway of a Kindle Fire! Enter every day for a chance to win!**
THINGS I LEARNED IN 2017 THAT EVERYONE ELSE ALREADY KNEW
I’m a believer in lifelong learning. I witness it every day as the caretaker of my elderly father, who is currently teaching himself how to code.
Inspired by this, maybe, I tried to assess what I learned this year. Specifically, what did I learn about books?
One lesson stood out. It ends up, I was just catching up on what so many others already knew: Young Adult fiction is awesome, even for those of us who haven’t been teenagers in awhile.
When Young Adult began its steep ascent in publishing, I didn’t think I’d be a fan. Too much dystopia, too many stories about kids asking the questions I’d already answered for myself, and didn’t care to revisit.
Was I ever wrong. If 2017 showed me anything, it was that YA isn’t just a genre for high school students and Hollywood scouts. The very best of the genre serve as a bellwether for change, as an index for where literature and culture are headed. It can push old boundaries, and teach us lessons about both ourselves and others, and hint at how the next generation of thought leaders will shape the world.
And the best in this genre in 2017 wasn’t just the best YA of the year, it was some of the very best of the year’s fiction.
Case in point: Angie Thomas’ brilliant The Hate You Give. Along with a lot of other readers, it was my book of the year not only because it entertained, but because it made me stop, go back, re-read, and think. The characters are so vivid, the dialogue so on-point, and the story fleshed out in the realist of realism: so-called bad guys sometimes do honorable things, and good guys sometimes lapse. Not every story is clear-cut.
I was sickened but not surprised to hear that a Texas school district banned THUG. In this current political climate, it may have been inevitable. They couldn’t be more wrong. This isn’t a book you keep out of kids’ hands. This is a book that belongs in every high school library in this country.
Young Adult books may tell us about community and our place in it, but they are so often at their core coming of age novels. And I learned this year that coming of age doesn’t have to be an instruction manual. It can be relevant long past your teen years.
Coming of age should be about introspection, about learning something about yourself, and when its done well—whether combined with fantasy or romance or action/adventure—it has the power to connect with anyone, of any age.
My favorite example of 2017 (and there were several) was the book that was so ballsy as to spoil it’s ending in the title: Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End. Ultimately, it makes sense, because dying isn’t the point of this well-written novel—it’s about how you use the time you have.
YA can also be just plain fun, and in this world of daily (sometimes hourly) WTF-ery, we can use a little laughter. Sound good? Try F.T. Lukens’ The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic. A friend accurately described this wonderfully weird and wild ride as being “a literary version of the waiting room in Beetlejuice.” It’s fast, it’s wild, it had me laughing out loud—while still making a point about being true to yourself, no matter how daunting that may be.
Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and PR flack who now spends a lot of time thinking about and occasionally writing books in her home outside Los Angeles. Her novel Luchador (Interlude Press, 2016) was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2016 and was named the best independently-published romance of 2016 by Foreword Reviews. She is also the author of Sotto Voce (2014) and Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar & Grille, part of the Interlude Press anthology, If the Fates Allow.
Connect with Erin on her website: http://www.erin-finnegan.com/
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