What is Young Adult?

As we continue to live in an age of the YA, or Young Adult, genre, the question begs an answer: Are YA books really meant for a teenage audience? Depending on your age, you might have a different interpretation of what Young Adult even means. For instance, a 70 year old might consider 40 to be young adult, and a 20 year old might consider an 11 year old a young adult (assuming that the 11 year old in question is quite mature for his or her age).

Are books like the Hunger Games meant for teenagers, or does it win the YA title simply because the characters fall into a teenage category? The genre of YA is relatively new to book shelves, and you might find a great section in your public library meant only for teens. Still, I find that I know less teenagers that read the books than adults. There could be several reasons for this. Many of the issues faced by YA characters are issues still faced by adults–and the concept of watching a character overcome these obstacles is rewarding to the reader. Also, it could be that the formative teenage years follow many of us into adulthood, and reconnecting to that time can either validate one’s emotions or transport you to a more carefree time. Maybe I just don’t know many teenagers.

So should there be a differentiation between YA and regular fiction? Maybe, maybe not. All I know is, it makes the books everyone loves a lot easier to find when they get their own place in the library–and it gives teenagers a place to call their own in a world they are still trying to define. Speaking of a great YA read, have you read The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke? Check it out at the ERC today!


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