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Young Readers Embrace YA At Boston Teen Author Festival

Mallory Dobry ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

This past weekend, readers of all ages and demographics flocked to the Cambridge Public Library for the Boston Teen Author Festival. The yearly festival celebrates and embraces young adult literature and invites authors from all areas of the genre.

Attending authors ranged from best sellers, to up and coming, and their genres and subject matter ranged from realistic to high fantasy, to adaptations and alternate histories. It featured an introduction panel, giving all authors a chance to speak and introduce their books, several panels featuring varying subject matter, and a book signing.

In its third year, the festival has shown an increase in authors and popularity. This year, big names attending featured Grisha Trilogy author, Leigh Bardugo, and Kody Keplinger, author of The Duff, which was just recently turned into a major motion picture.

From young girls with braces, carrying their freshly purchased books in glossy Divergent bags, to grown men, taking notes during panels about what inspired author Mackenzie Lee to write a steampunk Frankenstein, featuring Mary Shelley as a main character, there was one thing that united all of the attendees there: their love for reading.

Boston Teen Author Festival 2014. Source: embraceya.weebly.com

Festivals like the Boston Teen Author Festival are special because they offer a chance to celebrate a highly publicized, but also highly criticized genre. Young adult literature is often considered vapid, full of young girls who only care about finding a boyfriend, and big budget flashy films about saving the world. However, BTAF showcased stories of all types, with characters of all backgrounds, and authors took the time to explain the motivations and inspirations of their characters, and why they chose to write their stories.

The festival also highlighted the current movement and push for diversity in literature. Protagonists from books featured characters from many races, genders, and orientations. The Wrath of the Dawn – a retelling of Arabian Nights – by Renee Ahdieh features a middle-eastern protagonist, while Joyride by Anna Banks features a Latina leading woman. Adam Silvera’s novel More Happy than Not has been acclaimed for its portrayal of LGBT characters and themes.

The vibe going into a festival such as this is comparable to the buzz and excitement as bands perform live or watching a favorite movie over again. The stories these writers have crafted find their way into readers minds and hearts, and engage them. BTAF offers readers in the area a chance to interact on a personal level with authors whose stories they love, and discover new writers that they’d maybe never heard of.

For young writers, hearing from other authors who have succeeded in a difficult business provides a reassurance and advice to those still learning their style, craft, and inspirations. It gives them the chance to speak one on one, ask questions, and engage with those who have already paved their own way, and want to reach a hand back to YA authors who may follow.

Each year, BTAF grows in attendees and authors, with bigger and bigger names offering to attend. The festival has developed since its conception and continues to grow as more hear and learn of its existence, and in years to come, there is no doubt that larger crowds of readers will come to embrace and celebrate the excellence of young adult literature.

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