Why Adults Read Teen Romance by Jenn Bennett
Though Night Owls is my first YA book, I’ve been writing for adults for several years and am of the adult persuasion myself. This has never stopped me from reading YA. When I was younger, I used to manage a bookstore in California. Every night before we closed the store, we had to straighten the books, so I’d walk the shop, aisle by aisle, going through all the different sections. I always lingered in the young adult section. I couldn’t help myself. Back then, it was books as diverse in tone as Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson that caught my eye.
Later I moved on to things like Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles and Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. And this was my sweet spot: teen romance. It didn’t matter if it was contemporary or historical, set on Earth or in on another planet. I just liked reading about two crazy kids finding each other and falling in love.
But why? I certainly wasn’t a crazy kid anymore. In fact, I’m happily married, and have been for years. So what ‘s the appeal?
For me, and I think this is true for other adult readers, the experience of falling in love for the first time is such a potent, heady thing. The stolen looks. The racing pulses. The sweet pang of being away from each other for even one day that seems too much to bear. The sickening crush when something goes wrong (and it always, always does). When you’re that age, all of your emotions are cranked up to eleven, blowing out your speakers and rattling your car windows like the deep bass of a good summer song.
It’s been awhile since we’ve felt that out of control. We don’t really want to go through it all again – all those big highs and low lows? No thanks. But it’s a rush to feel that thrill through someone else’s eyes, and to be able to close the book and walk away, feeling a little cheerier about facing the dull parts of growing older.