Uplifting YA . . . show me the light!

We often talk about how YA lit is a safe way for teens to learn about some difficult subjects--I fully believe and support this . . . but what happened to all the uplifting YA?  I think it's equally important.

I received some bad news yesterday, really bad change your life news.  I picked up my current read and realized it was filled with angsty torment.  That's so not what I needed.  So I headed often to my ginormous bookshelf in search of a great read that would help me escape from my current frame of mind.  That's when I realized just about everything on my shelves is dark. 

Dark fantasy.  Dark paranormal. Dark contemporary.  Very dark dystopian. 

I'm a light hearted optimist so when I realized how dark my shelves were I was surprised and disappointed.  Where are all the happy feel-good books?  I looked on my other shelf and saw that most of my adult books are light.  I've been picking up adult books when my YA gets too dark and depressing.  What's wrong with this picture?  While it's true that we should give our readers a safe place to learn and think through difficult topics, don't we also need to show them something uplifting.  Something that inspires them?

I've decided this is my goal for my next manuscript.  I'll probably have to do some major revamping, or maybe change my idea completely, but now I'm on a mission. 

. . . Don't get me wrong there are definitely a few books/series that provide a great escape (there are a bunch of MG that fit into this category), but not nearly as many as I would have expected.  Or maybe I've just been unconsciously drawn to all the dark.  I'm not sure, but I'd love to find a light feel-good YA.  Any suggestions?


  1. Funny that you should mention this :D (Not only 'cause I have Tangled's "I See the Light" in my head, haha.) I just started re-writing an old novel of mine, the first one that I truly fell in love with, and the reason why I loved telling the story so much was because it was an escape. It's a fantastical world full of everything that I want to experience myself, not just the things that I'm afraid to experience. Of course, as the story goes on, it gets darker, but the initial setup is lighthearted.

    Unfortunately I don't have any good recommendations for recent lighthearted YA, but I'm about about to head over to the library. Wee!

  2. Oh man, that's so interesting! Now that I'm thinking about it, I can't remember the last really happy YA book I read. Let me know when youf find a good one :)

  3. I hear you. My WIP is more on the light and funny side of the spectrum. I love reading these dark novels but I agree that you need balance. Have you read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS? It will definitely make you feel happy. Also, I recommend the SUMMER series by Jenny Han. There's a little darkness sprinkled in but not too much. Also, John Green's AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES and Libba Bray's GOING BOVINE are fun reads.

  4. A light, feel good YA - Diana Wynne Jones. Any books really but my favourite is Enchanted glass.


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