Recently I found out that I'm, stricto sensu, a millennial. For the uniniciated, it seems to be a tag given to people born between 1980 and 1995, apparently. Fifteen years seem quite a stretch to me, but that's beside the point (said point being that we refuse to pay the full adult fare and to accept that we're pushing 30).
Anyway, millennials are signaled as partly responsible for the phenomenon of so-called "young adult" (YA) literature. The target audience for these books is clearly between the ages of 16 and 25-ish, mostly female, as the novels usually deal with romance and the transition between your teenage years and adulthood, between high school and the college years. The readers identify with the protagonists and their new experiences, the lack of stability in their lives (within the relative comfort of their existences), the dilemas...
I'd like to point an accusatory finger to John Green here as the other responsible party in this equation (although some believe the clear divisory lines between novels for younger audiences and adults started to get blurry with the Harry Potter books). If you've read my review of The Fault in Our Stars, you probably know that I'm not a huge fan of that particular novel.
Precisely because some friends of mine, all of them my age, were seriously worried that I wasn't an instant fan of the biggest love story of our generation (seriously?), I thought maybe I was the one with the problem (fucking Catholic upbringing...), so my editor friend, who knows her shit with books, told me to give John Green another try with An Abundance of Katherines.
I'll admit I liked it more than I expected, basically because I was expecting not to like it. Although I didn't quite empathize with the main character, Colin, nor really anyone else, to be honest, I kind of understand where this is coming from and why it is the way it is. It's a journey of self-discovery and growing up. It's not a masterpiece, but it might be a good read for older teenagers. At least this one wasn't trying hard to make me cry despite myself.
Then stupid Goodreads, based on my ratings, told me to try the novels of Rainbow Rowell (no, seriously: they send me a newsletter with "personalized" recommendations based on what I've read.) I was skeptical with her books too, as many booktubers and bloggers talked about Eleanor & Park like it was the best invention ever since the wheel. But my local public library has a wonderful service and leans you e-books for three weeks, so I downloaded another novel of hers, Fangirl.
In a way similar to An Abundance of Katherines, Fangirl is the story of a teenager (a girl this time) who has to learn to move out of her comfort zone in order to grow up. I think I was more forgiving with Kath because she writes fanfiction of a Harry Potter-type of character (not that I, of all people, have ever written fanfiction...), but I still didn't find her all that compelling. All in all, it's a good read and former introverts like yours truly might identify with the main character. I know for a fact that 18 year-old me would have.
Finally, I gave in and read Eleanor & Park and really liked it, even if it is slightly rushed. I couldn't put it down. As the John Green quote says, it's exactly like being in love in a movie. And the best part is that the romance is perfect in its imperfect way. It's probably the most "realistic" of all these YA novels I've read so far. Check it out if you have the chance.