Why is YA supposedly only for teens?
This may seem like a silly discussion to many of you, but it’s something I’m quite passionate about. In fact, I’ve honestly gotten into one too many discussions about this particular topic (often on Twitter) despite the fact that I’ve gotten my head bit off every. Single. Time. But I can’t help it because everyone reading this knows I am the Queen of Unpopular Opinions (and Chaos. and Destruction. and Dystopians. :p ) What is that opinion, you might ask, that’s gotten me so thoroughly ostracized from the bookish community?
Young adult fiction should not be intended only for teenagers.
Now what I mean by that is books written in and classified as being in the ‘young adult’ age group are supposed to be and are intended to be only for teenagers (at least according to all the book marketers and these insanely devout readers and authors who apparently didn’t get the memo that, NEWSFLASH, it’s no longer called ‘teen fiction.’)
What? I’m not bitter! What makes you think that?!
But last time I checked, a ‘young adult’ is not a teenager. They are not the same thing. Don’t believe me? Well, then, let’s just consult Merriam Webster, shall we?
Teenage. adjective. of, being, or relating to people in their teens
Teens. plural noun. the numbers 13 to 19 inclusive
Thus, by definition of the English language, approved by Merriam Webster themselves, the word utilized to encompass people between the ages of 13 and 19 actually has it’s own word! And you know what’s really fascinating about that one word? I’ll give you a hint! It’s not ‘young adult!’ Nope! Rather, it’s…
I know. It’s such a shocking idea that people who have lived for enough years to be in their ‘teens’ would be called ‘teenagers.’ It’s honestly just mind-blowing, don’t you agree?
Yet, this genre that is supposedly geared towards and written for teens is not, in fact, called ‘teen fiction.’ Yes, it was back in the day. (Not that long ago, either, apparently). However, the big thing to remember in this discussion is that it’s not called that any more. The name has changed. It’s adapted. It’s become something new to be more encompassing and yet many readers, marketers, publishers, and authors continue to believe that young adult fiction is geared not towards and intended for young adults, but for teens.
I do NOT agree!
Now, Merriam Webster sadly does not have a definition for young adult. However, Dictionary.com does. And do you know what Dictionary.com defines ‘young adult’ as? Let’s see…
Young Adult. noun.
Now, please note that the first definition does use ‘teenager’ as the definition, but my favorite part is the parentheses. The only people to use ‘teenager’ as the definition of young adult are librarians and publishers. The rest of the world has realized that it’s not appropriate definition.
Additional definitions online define young adults as both teenagers AND those in their early twenties. After all, in order to be a ‘young adult’ don’t you kind of have to be an adult of some type? Tell me, when was the last time a 13-year-old was classified as an adult? *waits and listens to the crickets*
Thus, labeling a genre as YOUNG ADULT, but gearing it towards only HALF of the young adult age group, is a total joke.
But I seem to be the only person who finds the publishing world’s use of the term ‘young adult’ to be absurd. I’m the only one who seems to believe that young adult includes… well, me! I’m 24! I’m a young adult and yet none of these young adult books I read are allowed to have characters that are my age. None of them are allowed to have characters in college or struggling with things like… doing laundry and paying bills. It’s all about applying to college and dealing with bullshit high school drama, which isn’t what I want to read anymore. So, why can’t we just allow books with 20-something main characters to be included in ‘young adult?’ What is SO wrong about that?! HONESTLY! Someone tell me because I’m at a total loss.
But what do you think?
Should YA be geared towards teens?
Leave your thoughts below!
And check out my discussion from last week: