Friday, December 27, 2013

Young Adult (YA) vs. New Adult (NA)

Not long ago a publisher friend of mine told me about a new genre called New Adult. The genre was full of books that were mostly self published and were geared toward people from about 18 to 29 (I'm not sure if those are the exact ages but you see where I'm going with this). The New Adult genre was suppose to incorporate things like college life, finding a job that would actually allow you to support yourself, standing on your own two feet and stepping into the world, and yes adult romance.

I read this article on Horn Book that compared YA and NA books. I'll let you read the article yourself but I have to say that as a 26 year old living in the "real world" there should be books geared toward my age group. At the age of 26 (there are exceptions) college life is behind you, high school is a fading memory, and life, bills, relationships, and friends, have bombarded your life and it may be hard to deal with. It's one thing to go to college and live on your own and make your own rules and experience life for what feels like the first time. However, where you're living in an apartment, that you can hardly afford and trying to figure out what bills you'll be able to pay that month, your singing a very different tune.

Teens are almost always forgotten in the library world, they are so easy to over looks because it is hard for us to understand them and remember what it was like at their age. I think the same can be said for this NA age group. I'm not married, I have never been married, I don't have kids, I don't have a house, I'm in the beginning of my career, and finances are frustrating. I want to read about characters like me. I don't want to read about a 30 something mother of two, recently divorced and experiencing a midlife crisis, because I haven't reached that point in my life yet (okay I'll read about that, but I can't relate). There is a very real difference between the life of a 17 year old high school student, the life of a 21 year old college student, the life of a 26 year old young professional,and the life of a 32 year old parent. I think literature should try to reach out and connect with all age groups.

The best quote that I can pull from the article is this one “the heart of YA is the coming-of-age story about a teen’s first step towards deciding who they are and what they want to become. The coming-of-age story in New Adult is about actually becoming that person. Or not, as the case may be.” In my opinion it says it all.

There are articles out there that don't like the term New Adult and what it may or may not signify. I must say I agree that sometimes labeling books can cause more harm than good, but in a world (library world) were books have to fall into some sort of category just so we'll know what shelf to put them on, I think it's unavoidable. Is it right to try to force everything into a label, no, is it necessary for my job, yes. I just really, truly, wholeheartedly think that it's time we think about those of us in our mid 20s. It seems that many of the books that fall under the NA category are romance but there's nothing wrong with that (and I'm not even a huge romance fan, I'm partial to action myself, with some romance thrown in), romance and relationships play a vital part in our lives. The end. Case and point. I don't understand why it's so looked down upon.

As for the fact that NA reads like YA except with bolder sex scene's I have this to say, sexual exploration is a fact of life, and it actually may be considered an important fact of life, in this country sex it still a very taboo subject that makes a lot of people uncomfortable, and I think that's a problem. Romantic relationships are a very important aspect of NA life, it's during that time that we are not only finding our way career wise, but it may be during your mid 20's that you find the person that you walk down the isle toward. Call it silly or dramatic if you want to but that's how I feel and I can't change it.

Below are a few links,


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