Youth in Books

With the stress and pressure of everything that seems to go on in an adult’s life, it certainly feels good to take a break and reminisce the days when life seems to be less complicated and more hopeful, and vibrant. They say that reading gives us a free ride back to the past, forward to the future or straight in other people’s roller coasters.

There were tons of books that have stirred the memories of youth in me. Let me share with you some of my favorites.

  1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Going through puberty is hard enough for a person. What more, if you are a lot more different from other teenagers – the way you dress, the fact that you are the new kid in the block, and that your hair doesn’t fall seamlessly in your back. This is the dilemma of Eleanor. Then, she meets Park – who’s perceived as another outcast, with Asian roots, but somehow more welcomed than she is.

This did not only grab me back in my pimple ridden face days, but also to my first young love experience. It made me feel as excited as I was before. As hurt and frustrated, that not everything was going the way I wanted them to.

Eleanor and Park just completely warmed my heart.

2.To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Admittedly, the title made me cringe the first time I saw it in the bookstore. It reminded me of the old good days of collecting imaginary boyfriends and writing down boy names in a quite fancy style with hearts in the end.

 This is a story of Lara Jean writing letters of farewell to her crushes, and them mysteriously finding their way to its supposed recipients. It is then that the very cute and adorable love story of Lara Jean and Peter K has started.

Jenny Han made me dream again of boy next doors, sweeping me off my feet and sending me sweet love letters.

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Okay, sorry. I just love Rainbow Rowell a lot. I’m convinced that she’s really just a sixteen year old, with very good writing skills. 

Here, we follow the journey of Cath, as a freshman. She is an introvert who loves writing fan fiction – hence, the birth of Simon and Baz. You will know much more these of guys later. We’ll see here how she manages college life without her twin, and without being in her comfort zone. 

I just love a good out of the shell story and just finding your people outside the comforts of your home. Fangirl is just like a mirror of how I felt when I started college. It was not really a comforting thought that I wouldn’t be seeing the same faces as before. I was very anxious if I’d be able to get along with these new people I’d meet. Would I click with them? Would they like me as I am? Or should I just keep to myself?

There was no big drama or conflict in the story and yet its characters were simply endearing and relatable. Ahh, I miss college! Don’t you

4. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Seriously, what does it mean to be normal?

Normal People is another coming of age story of the characters, Marianne and Connell. It mainly focused on the dynamics of their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships.

Their story touched on societal and mental health issues like anxiety, peer pressure, abuse and depression. It showed how the two navigated these issues on their own and together.

Imagine yourself back in high school or college, when you’re still discovering new things about yourself. And you aren’t so sure if the you, you’ve discovered, would be accepted. If the person you’ve become would not go against the norm.

I’ve never seen a character more human than these two, after all both are normal people.

You can now watch its TV show adaptation in BBC.

5. Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

The Wayward Son is an amazing escape for me. Rainbow always creates these characters you will never get tired of.  It is about Simon, Baz and Penelope’s adventure to America, to visit another wizard friend. But along the way they encounter difficulties, what with vampires, non- magical zones, and new creatures.

It is a story not only of adventures but also of self-discovery. What is it that really makes you happy? How do you see yourself? And how do you pick yourself up in the midst of weakness?

Sometimes to be young means having a lot fun, and a little less care of what’s going to happen next. Reading Wayward Son is like seeing your younger self going on adventures with friends. It reminds us that back then, we don’t rely on ourselves only, but on other people as well. We do not have to pretend that everything’s alright and that we can do it on our own.

There’s always a lesson in each book that we read.

We might think just because the characters in each book are at that stage in life which we’ve already passed, doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to learn from it. They might serve as reminders that life is to be enjoyed. Or that life is not a race towards an ending or a common goal. It is a never ending discovery of new things, passion and maybe a love interest. Wink!

We have only been ourselves since we were born. Won’t it feel so educating and refreshing to see the world in different eyes? To feel the exhilaration from an adventure, you haven’t experienced because you’re too busy with life? To understand the pain of that person, for you’d never know until you’re in her shoes?

Maybe, the younger version of us was more carefree. Maybe, the sixteen year old us back then were more contented with life. Maybe, years ago we were more open-minded to change and difference; or maybe not.

Read these books and let the feeling of nostalgia rush in.

How about you what are your favorite YA reads?

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