What Is Young Adult?
For those of you scratching your heads about the labels publishers put on books, young adult (AKA YA) is the name of the genre of literature that focuses on an audience of teens from around ages 14-18 or so.
Does that mean you have to be between the ages of 14 and 18 to enjoy the books labeled “young adult?” Not at all! I’m nowhere near that age range (ahem), and I read YA novels for pleasure all the time. Many young adult novels cross over and appeal just as much to an adult audience as they do to teens. Eleanor and Park, for instance, has massive crossover appeal, especially for us old-timers who grew up in the 1980s and heavily identify with the era of bad hair and walkman radios. Or maybe you’ve heard of a great little book called A Fault In Our Stars? Before I knew any teens who’d read that novel, I’d met like a gazillion adults who’d read it and loved it.
Both of those titles are among my favorite novels. I tend to love any story with a teen narrator, which took me a long time to realize. Lots of adult novels have teen narrators, too. Some of my favorites are:
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon