Here’s the thing: when I first started reading YA, I was ten. When I first started this blog, I was 11-almost-12. It’s been more than 4 years since this website has started, and there have been hundreds upon hundreds of books read and reviewed since. And my reading tastes have changed a lot since then.
When I was thirteen years old, I attempted one of my first hard-subject books that wasn’t about depression or anxiety. It was about OCD. And frankly, I hated it. Everyone else loved it, but I couldn’t see why. The character irritated me and she acted rash and compulsively–that’s what I remember thinking. Except that’s kind of stupid, isn’t it? It was a story about a girl with OCD. And it made me uncomfortable. And I didn’t like that. When I wrote all my complaints in my review, there were a couple of people who commented on my review–wondering why the hell I would pick this up if the OCD aspects bothered me when it said OCD in the title. (OCD Love Story)
They had a point. But good luck trying to tell my thirteen year old brain that.
They were a little ruder than they had to be, but they had a point. I figured that I just wasn’t the type of person to read those kind of hard hitting topics, shrugged and moved on with my life.
But those types of books are hard to avoid sometimes because hard topics are kind of the trademark of Young Adult novels. Teens deal with depression and anxiety and OCD and bipolar disorders and eating disorders and everything in between. We’re temperamental, we’re emotional, and authors get that. So I read them, but I could never say that characters irritated me. They made me sad sometimes, and I cried as I read, but. It wasn’t the same as when I read OCD Love Story.
A couple months ago, I read When We Collided. I got the exact same feelings I did when I’d read OCD Love Story way back in 2013 (or 2012? ARCs make it hard to remember). The main character (Vivi) angered me–too reckless, too selfish, too oblivious, too everything. But I read on, and when I finished I realized that despite all her flaws, Vivi was beautifully written. Her disorder may have made the story hard to read, but this time I appreciated it in the story rather than loathing it. It was a difficult book to understand and to love, but that was exactly why this book was so important.
And I finally appreciated that.
I’m rethinking this post title because maybe it should’ve been called “How Books Changed Me” because honestly, that’s what happened.