Thisclose To Being YA

The pastor of my church has invited the young adults of the church to sup with him, a special dinner for those ages…wait for it, 18-40.

Really? 40? “Young” adults?

So I’m literally thisclose to being considered a young adult in the eyes of God. Pah!

While I may be considered young compared to someone who is seventy, the fact remains I’m no young adult. Much as I’d love to be. But a wide age-ranging group of folks breaking bread with the pastor could make for an interesting evening. Picking up a book that’s supposed to be specifically written for young adults and finding that it’s not, only serves to frustrate.

For the record, let’s be clear that any categorization in publishing is to help make marketing easier. In that sense, too much is made of categories and classifications. Avid readers will often read just about anything as long as they walk away satisfied.

But the ability to discern a YA from an adult book, a biography from fiction, science fiction from romance are guideposts to help those with a preference, find their favorites faster. And since we have the friggin’ things I wish they were used more accurately.

I mean, seriously, even though the character Bone is the one telling the story and is about 12, maybe 14 throughout most of the book, would you eagerly book talk Bastard Out of Carolina to a fourteen-year-old?

You could, but there are YA books that deal with sexual abuse and dysfunctional upbringing that may be more palatable.

Even The Lovely Bones, another story about a teenager, isn’t classified YA. I assume because the crux of the story is the protag relaying her observations and what she’s watching her family go through without her.

Those books are classified correctly. As Cybils judging powers on, I’m starting to get more and more prickly when a YA book doesn’t come off YA enough for me and here’s why:

Because I’m Mental
I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in being a mental reader – meaning I come at a book from a certain angle based on expectations set by the jacketflap or the book’s genre and/or categorization. When a book is classified YA, the protagonist better be a teenager and the plot better revolve around that teen’s journey…while they’re a teen! Period. Anything less and it’s false advertising.

Competitive Avoidance is a Strategy Not a Literary Advantage
In case you haven’t noticed, the young adult market is flush with books. When I read a book that’s classified YA simply because the protag happens to be young at some point in the book, I get suspicious that it was marketed YA to avoid competing in the even moreso competitive adult market. Nice move if this were Battleship.

I love YA
I’m one of those avid readers, I spoke about. I love getting my hands on a hot story no matter the genre or classification. But when I settle down to snuggle up with a good YA novel, it’s because I genuinely want to know what the young character is facing and how they will tackle it. When the book starts pouring on the background about parents and the beginning of time, my eyes glaze over. Refer back to the bullet: I’m Mental.

It insults the YA readers
My suspicious nature can’t help but wonder if some books play both sides of the fence because the publisher felt that as good/strong as the book was, it wasn’t quite strong enough to compete in the adult market. That’s downright disrespectful to YA readers. Newsflash – a good book is a good book is a good book. If it’s not strong enough to compete in the adult market, it won’t fare any better among teen readers or adults who enjoy young adult fiction.

Everyone has their lane, I just want adult fiction books or even adult-lite fiction books to stop veering into the YA lane. Is that too much to ask?

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