WATCH: Why are adults fascinated with teen novels?

Bestselling young adult "Everything, Everything" author Nicola Yoon explains why she writes YA books


Mary Elizabeth Williams
March 29, 2017 2:15AM (UTC)
This Salon Talks video was produced by Alexandra Clinton

How does a girl who's never left her house experience — and even explore — the world? That's one of the questions young adult author Nicola Yoon posed in her debut novel, "Everything, Everything," the tale of Maddie, a teen with a rare autoimmune disease whose life is changed when "a super cute boy" moves in next door.

Yoon's New York Times bestseller is now set to be a new movie starring "Hunger Games" veteran Amandla Stenberg this spring, and the author sat down recently with Salon to discuss the boom in YA literature and her own inspirations. She says started writing "Everything, Everything" when her own daughter was just four months old. "I was a very, very nervous new mom, and I really did think she was going to get sick. . . so I started thinking about what life would be for a girl you had to protect all the time the way you protect an infant."

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Yoon's second novel, "The Sun Is Also a Star," similarly features teen protagonists, a pair of high schoolers facing the imminent deportation of one of them. She says she was initially drawn to writing YA literature because "I think that teenagers are naturally philosophical, and I want to be a part of that conversation with them." YA, she says, is about "asking big questions, and saying that you should ask these questions. You don't necessarily need to have answer to them." And those same books are equally embraced by older readers, she surmises, because, "I don't think you should stop questioning, as an adult. . . what your dreams and passions are."


Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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