I know this is a topic that gets debated on pretty often so I thought I'd sound in on it. Because, why not?
I think it's important to look at what YA novels are overall: teenagers who are just trying to find their place in the world. I remember those horrid teen years where it felt like all the adults were against you, but you just knew that once you were one of them everything would be so much better. In the meantime, you had to deal with ruthless high school cliques who were never happy unless you were miserable, unrequited love for the hottest, sportiest, most popular boy in school who would never know your name, and the desperate grasp for financial independence.
I wouldn't go back there if you paid me, like, a gazillion dollars.
The thing is, young adults are learning all the social acts and games they need for the days when they are an adult and they are making a wild amount of mistakes in the process. Some of these mistakes are drug or alcohol-related, some of them cost best friends, and some (mostly, a lot) lead to giving up the cherry far too early.
It's life. It happens.
Now I don't want to sound all blasé about the loss of innocence that extra age-digit brings with it, but these things are fact. Yeah, a fair few of us manage to get by untainted but out of the people I know, it's probably around the 5-10% mark.
My point is, people want to read about things they can relate to. People look to books for more reasons than just escapism, sometimes they need that friend that can guide them through the hard times. And what better navigator than a peer who's been through the same trials and come out of them okay?
To those that don't agree, that's too bad. I'm not saying I want YA to be flat-out Fifty Shades territory, it should definitely keep the discretion and notion of love that most books out there hold, but I'll never agree that it should be omitted completely.
Think back to were you were 15+
What was it on everyone's mind?
(And I'm not just talking about the boys.)