Time for another feature here on Brown Books and Green Tea! Remember, we’re here every first and third Tuesday, so check in if you’re interested in discovering some great new bloggers! This week, meet Amber, who is the blogger over at YA Indulgences.
Tell us about yourself/your blog, YA Indulgences! Why have you chosen to focus on Young Adult literature?
Hi! I’m so happy to be featured this week. I created my blog almost two years ago. I thought about starting a book blog for a couple years, let the idea go, then discovered “BookTube,” where people discuss books on Youtube. Finally, I decided to go into the blogging world.
I chose to focus on YA because it’s close to my heart. I love being able to relate to the characters even though I’m a bit beyond their age now. I like how it deals with high school in the Contemporary genre mostly because I know my high school experience wasn’t much to write home about, but it’s good to read about others experiences.
What makes a good story?
I actually wrote another guest post about this on Oh, The Books! I always love to find relatable characters, so that means flawed. One of my favorite books I read not long after beginning blogging was Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang. The character was quite unlikeable and mean at times, but I fell in love with her. I could relate to her and her feelings. That brings me to the next thing, I think emotions make all the difference. I’m not going to enjoy a flatly told story with monotone characters. I want to care about the characters and their journey. I want to feel something whether that’s angry, happiness or sadness. Especially sadness. Finally, I love intriguing settings. I liked the setting in We Were Liars by E. Lockhart a lot, it was at an island the main characters go to every summer off the coast of Massachusetts.
As someone who is part Native American (and Puerto Rican), have you ever seen a character in a book and thought “wow, that’s me!” Who was the character, and what made them so authentic?
This is something that I’m still exploring at 24 really, being Native American and how that affects my life and who I am. I know when I first read The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry, I was like “Wow! A Native American character, finally!” As I read more of the book though, I became annoyed with the portrayal because it seemed like Native American myths (which were all grouped together) were just used as a lesson and not an actual belief system. I didn’t like how the character didn’t belong to a specific tribe because the reality is, we’re NOT all from the same tribe. We’re not all from the same area. I’m not super familiar with the beliefs of my particular tribe (Potawatomie Prairie Band Nation), but I know enough to know that Native Americans don’t have all of the same beliefs. I know that The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (an #OwnVoices, title) by Sherman Alexie has been pretty well received.
What do people commonly get wrong about your culture in books and other forms of media?
Well, there’s always the indication that Native Americans own casinos, while my tribe does own a casino, not all tribes do. There’s also the overly wise stereotype which is seen in The Love That Split The World. I never really see any Native Americans in the media that aren’t from old historical films so this question is hard to answer. There’s a lot of variety in circumstances and just people’s lives. We don’t all live on reservations, we don’t all worship nature and I don’t think we’re all super wise, as I’ve seen portrayed in some media.
You actually address this question in your post “What I would like to see more of in YA,” but what do you think YA literature could do better?
I think YA literature could just broaden itself. There’s a lot of gatekeepers from publishing itself (a big part) to even authors. I see more and more races depicted by authors outside that race, but it’s never native american. This is why I was so excited when I began to read The Love That Split The World.
I think a problem is that publishing knows what works. They know people will read about white, middle class characters in Contemporary or Fantasy or whatever genre of choice. If this formula works, why ask for anything else? Why take a risk in publishing a book that only a small population of YA readers may pick up and enjoy?
I think authors could be a lot more specific when discussing various races and religions, especially when they go outside their race. Name that Native American, name the city that an African American teen is from, talk about beliefs with all of these races. Discuss how a Young Adult’s life is harder or influenced by their family. Just be more open. I think trying is great, I really do. I would love it more though if there was a bit more care and breaking of stereotypes. It’s great to research and talk to people who are the race of your main character, but I think it’s really essential to get (several) beta readers for your book. That way you’ll have a wide range of thoughts.
For publishing and publicists: just take a chance! If you publish it, we will come. The YA book community is so open to everything. Don’t be afraid to publish a book about a lower economic setting, about a Native American girl or a story taking place in Japan WITH Japanese characters who grew up there. I know it’s hard to want to take chances when you know what works and “What if no one buys it?” but I think it’s important to also portray people as they are. If it doesn’t make a lot of money, I’m sorry, that sucks. Isn’t it more important though that people are represented? That everyone is shown care?
Most of the readers here over at BB> tend to read outside of the YA genre– what are some great diverse recommendations that would them over to the dark side?
Ah, my favorite question! A fantastic great intersectional diversity book is More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. In More Happy Than Not, there is socio-economic, LGBT and racial diversity. I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios deals with PTSD, a lower income setting and a touch of alcoholism. None of The Above by I.W. Gregorio was the first story I read about an interest teen and it was fantastic. Fans of The Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa has characters that are overweight, in foster care, LGBT, etc. It’s a really great story and is told in three different perspectives. Run by Kody Keplinger is one of my favorite reads of the year and it comes out next month. It deals with lower economic settings, an LGBT character, and a character with a physical disability (Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis). It’s really great because it’s #OwnVoices so the author was close to the setting of the book and the disability, Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis which I hadn’t heard of previously.
Who are some of your favorite bloggers?
Some of my favorite bloggers are: Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner, Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader, Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books, Cristina @ Girl In The Pages, Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales, and Rachel @ Hello Chelly.
Where can BB> readers find you online?
Put your best foot forward! What do you think has been your best post?
Oh no, my best post? Well, I’m always a big fan of my Veronica Mars post . As far as interviews go, I really loved the one I had with Corey Ann Haydu. And I did a really controversial post about if the buying and selling of ARCs could ever be justified. I liked the way I wrote it
Anything else you want to say? Take a sentence or two and do it here!
I’m coming up on my second blog anniversary next month, July 20th! That’s really exciting for me. 🙂