Friday, October 21, 2011

Fourteen or Forty: Does a Narrator's Age Determine YA or Not?

What is the difference between books for young adults, and books with young adult characters? I recently read an article about Palahniuk's Damned where the author insisted that we all need to "keep adult books separate. Damned may be a great book for adults, but it'll just be another battle for librarians and teachers if it's suddenly thought to be young adult."

I don't agree. Anytime a narrator is a teenager, I think the book can be considered for young adults in some way. Maybe not for all young adults, sure. But I feel it is too close-minded to say a book with a teenage protagonist has no home at all in the YA category. There are layers. The number of young adult novels vary as widely as the audience. Some readers are mature, some are looking for pure entertainment, some are intrigued by death and sex while others prefer high school romance. Damned is for a mature audience interested in darker issues, the same way some teens would be bored with Sweet Valley High. I agree with the author in one regard: putting the YA brand on a controversial book is surely a fear for librarians. Parents get concerned about the content in their children's books. But to cut out those books - Middlesex, The Bluest Eye, even Fight Club - altogether from the genre is doing young adult readers and writers a disservice.

To read the article I mentioned, click here.

1 comment:

  1. makes me think of 'Girl in Landscape' by Jonathan Lethem. It's told from the point of view of a girl on the edge of puberty who ends up confronting some really brutal and adult issues in a setting where the adults won't (more post apocalyptic lit). Certainly not written for teens, but why limit it to grownups?