The New Adult Category Revisited

In case you guys missed it, within the last month or so New Adult “officially” became a category. I’m not ready to fly the Mission Accomplished banner yet, but I am thrilled. Back in May, I set forth an argument in favor of New Adult, and the most common response I received was “That’d be awesome, but it won’t come for a long time.”

Tada! Here it is!

Of course, with progress, so comes the snark.

I normally don’t mind snark too much. With every new thing comes worry and confusion, and snark is often the way people choose to publicly express those feelings while avoiding vulnerability. I have to admit, though, that this latest round got under my skin a bit.

The snarky argument in the Twitter-verse and elsewhere is that the New Adult label is restrictive and even insulting. The snarksters throw out jokes like “What’s next, geriatric fiction?” and sarcastic comments like “Yes, because readers should only read books with characters exactly like them. I’m 32, so therefore my protagonists must be 32 and have three kids and a chinchilla!”

Variations on the last comment are the most prevalent, and the thumping noise you hear is me banging my head on the wall. The point of age categories is not that kids should ONLY read books about kids or teens should ONLY read books about teens. It’s about stages of life and having someone to relate to. A kid in the fifth grade doesn’t have the same issues as a sixteen-year-old. In the same way, a twenty-something fresh out of college is living in a completely different world that the aforementioned sixteen-year-old.

Arguing that the fight for NA fiction limits readership is akin to the argument that having a non-white protagonist limits readership. It very well may to those who are close-minded, but isn’t the risk worth it? Readers should have protagonists with whom they can connect. A well-written protagonist is relatable regardless of age, gender, or race, but does that mean that diversity should be dismissed?

Adding a new age category does not limit readership any more than adding the YA age category limited readership back in the day. I think most all of us can agree that allowing YA to grow by giving it its own category greatly enhanced the possible reading experience rather than restrict it. In the same way, NA fills in the neglected and tumultuous time of life that falls between the heyday of teenhood and the (relatively) settled life of full-blown adulthood.

Here are a few more arguments/concerns regarding New Adult that I would like to politely dismiss.

1. Gap? What gap? You’re either a teen or you’re an adult. Or, as the much-loved Ms. Kelly from Stacked puts it, all the stuff post-high-school “is simply called adulthood.” WRONG, I say! Legally, yes, that time of life is defined as adulthood, but emotionally, mentally, socially, culturally? Not so much.

USA Today posted an article on “emerging adults,” or those in the age range of 18-29. That’s an actual phase on human development being studied by researchers, thank you very much. In addition to putting off marriage and parenthood, emerging adults are also defined by their contact with their parents and the present economy. When asked if they felt like adults, the majority (46.8%) of emerging adults polled said “in some ways yes, in some ways no.”

I’ve talked with friends from college, and very few of us feel like “true” adults. Some of us still live at home. Few of us are completely financially independent. All of us are still going through that weird transition time with our parents. None of us have begun careers in our chosen fields. College, grad school, part-time jobs, and full-time jobs elsewhere for the sake of a paycheck are still very much in the picture. We’re not kids. We’re not happy-go-lucky teens. But we’re not adults either. The law might call us grown up, but we don’t feel grown up, and that’s what New Adult addresses.

2. There’s a gap, but they didn’t need books before, so they don’t need books now. There wasn’t always a gap, just as there wasn’t always a socially accepted age bracket for “teenager” or “child.” But there is now. The world has changed. Social structures, the economy, and many other factors have combined together to make this gap. Call us Millenials. Call us boomerang kids. Call us young whippersnappers, we don’t care. But we exist, and if we exist, we read.

3. There’s a gap, but the gap doesn’t matter. This particular belief irritates me for two reasons. First of all, it’s not true. Sarah over at CEFS repeats the widely known yet crucial observation that teens tend to read up. A fourteen-year-old might read about another fourteen-year-old, but odds are she also wants to read about seniors and all the super-cool things they’re doing. That’s all fine and dandy until suddenly the seniors reach the end of the YA line and find themselves staring at an abyss.

According to their books, life ends with graduation, disappears into unforeseeable nothingness, and then reappears from the void as a life full of kids, cheating husbands, and journeys where one must eat, pray, and love to find oneself again. Apparently, 17 is cool, but once you hit 18 or 19 you’re nothing until you find yourself a solid job and a good man. (Or a rake, if you’re into romance books.)

The second reason this argument makes me grit my teeth is because, essentially, I’m being told that I don’t matter. The gap doesn’t matter; I’m in the gap; therefore, I don’t matter. I don’t matter as someone with an experience to be shared, and I don’t matter as a consumer. Who the heck are you to tell me that I don’t matter?

In talking about YA lit, Read Now Sleep Later quoted a blogger (Tammy Blackwell of Miss Tammy Writes) who encapsulates why having YA fiction is so very important for teens. While her quote is true for teens, I believe it is also VERY true for emerging adults. Here’s a part of the quote:

I think it’s important for teens to feel like there is something just for them, that reflects their experiences. Most of them are struggling to find where they fit in in this world, and YA books reflect that journey and help them find their way.

Now replace “teens” with “emerging adults” and “YA” with “NA.” I believe so many emerging adults continue to read YA because of this issue. We desperately are trying to find a way to fit in and find our place. That struggle doesn’t end in high school; instead, it grows and stretches to envelope even more issues.

4. Writing about the gap is useless, because no one’s buying. Oh, you silly skeptics. Publishers are actively seeking NA lit. Agents are putting it on their wishlists. Why? Because people ARE buying! Dahlia of the Daily Dahlia wrote a bit about the growing market and Stacked put together a small list of published books that can be classified as NA. Leanna at Daisy Chain Books also has some recommendations.

5. We don’t know where to shelve the books! Valid point, but a bit weak. Trish Doller of Something Like Normal fame wrote a bit about this issue from a shelver perspective. Basically, there are NA-type books already out there (see point #4), but they’re shelved in YA or adult, so a new section isn’t necessary. I believe this issue will iron itself out with time as the number of NA titles grows. If my store can find a special place just for nature essays, it can find a place for NA books. Having a section that puts NA books together will aid with browsing, which is how I find many of my books. I don’t want to wade through 20+ snoozy adult lits about crumbling marriages and forgotten childhood traumas to find that one NA book.

6. New Adult (NA) is a stupid name. I’ll give you that one, but it’s not like it’s set in stone. Titles change.

To be honest, I probably won’t read a lot of the current NA titles, as the newest batch seems to focus a lot on sex. I don’t like sex in my books. But I do believe that, as the category expands, its focus will grow as well. Right now, NA has a lot of contemporary college books. This will not always be the case.

My hope is to one day find NA filled with as much diversity and adventure as YA. I want a twenty-year-old knight fighting dragons and a twenty-six-year-old explorer discovering a new planet and a nineteen-year-old graduate moving away from home for the first time. Life does not end at eighteen, nor does it begin again at thirty. Life is happening HERE. NOW. We’re living it, and our stories deserve to be told.

What do YOU think of New Adult?

Articles mentioned in this post:
Bookshelvers Anonymous – New Adult; or, There Be Rough Waters Ahead, Matey!
Clear Eyes, Full Shelves – The “New Adult Genre”: Thoughts + Questions
Daily Dahlia, The – Whose “Failure” is New Adult?
Read Now, Sleep Later – YA Shame and Stigma
Stacked – Some thoughts on “new adults” and also “cross-unders”
USA Today – Many ’emerging adults’ 18-29 are not there yet

30 Responses to The New Adult Category Revisited

  1. Auggie December 21, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Okay. I was originally feeling a bit on the fence about this one, because I was slightly confused about what “New Adult” was relating to. Once it all clicked together that we’re talking about readers in their 20’s, the light came on and I have to say I agree.

    Being in my 20’s I’ve noticed a huge lack of books focusing on that period of life. The ‘figuring out’ time, and honestly one of the biggest decades for adventure. Now, I don’t ever see myself being a “settled soccer mom”, so I’m sure I’ll be having plenty of adventures in each decade of my life… but the 20’s are the time of discovery. You think teenagers figure out who they are and what they want by the time they’re 18? HAHA. Oh lord. The only people that believe that are the 18 year olds.

    I definitely agree that there’s a lot of potential with the NEW ADULT category, and there’s absolutely a need for it considering that out of all of the books I’ve read… the ones with characters closest to my age were Romance novels and I still have 4-5 years on them. On the other end of the spectrum there were the books I read with protagonists that were 4-5 years older than me. I exist in a purgatory of book age.

    I’m all for this NA craze, but they’re going to have to find a new title. Not just that it’s a bit awkward, but also “New Age” already has the “NA” title snatched. Not to mention I always think of “Not Applicable” when I see “NA”, and I am PERFECTLY APPLICABLE thank you.

    • Shelver 506 December 21, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

      “A purgatory of book age.” I like that! And yes, we’ve GOT to find a new title.

  2. Charleen December 21, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    I haven’t read any books that fall into this category, so I don’t know exactly how it’s being implemented, but as a concept I love it. I have read some books where the characters are about my age, but they aren’t usually genres that I enjoy, or at least not genres that I love (chick lit and urban fantasy immediately come to mind). And the ONLY thing that character and I have in common is our age. I’m not going to connect with a character solely because of that. (Not to mention, at least in chick lit, her love life might be a mess but she’s usually a young professional so at least she’s got that going for her. I have the opposite problem.)

    Any recommendations for someone new to New Adult?

  3. Maureen E December 21, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    Arguing that the fight for NA fiction limits readership is akin to the argument that having a non-white protagonist limits readership.

    Really? I think you might want to re-think that argument before it blows up in your face.

    Honestly, I disagree. I think that the books are fine and should be published–in fact NO ONE is arguing otherwise. But the idea that we need a separate publishing category is going to be confusing for casual readers, who don’t understand the difference between mg and YA as it is. And it IS a narrow category–I don’t see it having the same resonance with a wider readership. Quite honestly, I AM in that age group and I completely understand the feeling–I often feel like I’m not very good at being an adult. And adult books usually are focused on 40-somethings and mid life crises. But again, I don’t feel that that equals a need for a new publishing category. What’s wrong with continuing to publish them in YA–which a lot of 20 somethings read anyway–and encouraging younger readers as well as that specific age group to read them?

    • Shelver 506 December 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

      Really? I think you might want to re-think that argument before it blows up in your face.

      The only argument I was making is that all demographics should be able to find a book SOMEWHERE that matches them. We need books for whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians, little kids, big kids, teens, college kids, graduates, soccer moms, old people, straight people, gay people, poor people, rich people, middle-class people, EVERYTHING! And literally before NA, the interest in my particular demographic was nil, and it was freaking annoying.

      But the idea that we need a separate publishing category is going to be confusing for casual readers, who don’t understand the difference between mg and YA as it is.

      I guess I fail to see how people being unable to understand what YA is should affect NA at all.

      And it IS a narrow category

      Speaking in sheer mathematical terms, NA as an age group is no more narrow than YA. YA roughly equals 13-18. NA roughly equals 18-29. So, really, mathematically speaking, NA is BROADER than YA. And NA as a life period covers just as much change and upheaval as YA.

      What’s wrong with continuing to publish them in YA

      Because they don’t. If you’ll read the discussion I quoted in my May post, agents and publishing companies by and large won’t pick up college-age protagonists for their YA novels. They just won’t. They insist that the protagonists be aged down or the book be pushed to the adult market.

    • Maureen E December 21, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

      I guess my point is that there’s a big difference between an age demographic and institutionalized racism. I understand the annoyance, but…they’re still not the same.

      I guess I fail to see how people being unable to understand what YA is should affect NA at all.

      Because I worry that casual readers will actually miss NA books rather than finding them, simply because they won’t understand the label.

      YA roughly equals 13-18. NA roughly equals 18-29
      And to me YA is more like 13-25. Perhaps simply because that’s how it’s been used, but I like the wideness and diverseness of the label, which is something I don’t see in NA.

      If you’ll read the discussion I quoted in my May post, agents and publishing companies by and large won’t pick up college-age protagonists for their YA novels. They just won’t. They insist that the protagonists be aged down or the book be pushed to the adult market.

      I mean, that’s frustrating, but I don’t see that the answer is to create another label.

      And I do agree with Christina and Brandy’s points below.

      Basically, on this one, I think we just won’t see eye to eye, sadly. 🙁

    • Maureen E December 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

      I do want to say–I really do understand the frustration, and there are times when I read a teen protag who seems SO immature in a way that does read as specifically high school–fixation on prom or boyfriend when I can’t help thinking that they won’t last beyond a few years. But quite often those are not the type of book I really enjoy reading anyway.

    • Shelver 506 December 21, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

      Because I worry that casual readers will actually miss NA books rather than finding them, simply because they won’t understand the label.

      Education. Education, education, education. As mentioned before, so many people don’t “get” the YA label either, yet here we are.

      And to me YA is more like 13-25. Perhaps simply because that’s how it’s been used, but I like the wideness and diverseness of the label, which is something I don’t see in NA.

      That’s what YA should be, but it isn’t. When was the last time you read a YA book about a 25 year old? Or even a 20 year old? And there’s wideness and diversity because the category has been allowed to age and deepen. NA is a few months old. Give it a chance to bud before you pull out the weedkiller.

      It’s more than just all the talk of prom (which IS annoying). I can only suspend disbelief so long when reading about a super-spy who isn’t even old enough to drive.

      And thanks for your last note. 🙂 I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, I truly don’t. But often I feel people don’t agree because I’m fumbling my own words, which in turn gets me frustrated with myself, not the other person.

  4. Christina December 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    While I do see what you’re saying and certainly think you raise some valid points regarding adulthood and life stages, I do not agree with New Adult as a label for an age group/lifestyle. Certainly, at 25 and unmarried, I don’t identify with some of the adult literature out there and the same goes with teen, but a good book can move no matter the subject matter.

    My biggest issue with it isn’t really something you’ve mentioned, though I do think the label is unnecessary. The segmenting of children’s books into age groups has been done largely to connect them with books within their general reading level. Of course, some adult books fit into lower reading levels, like Mitch Albom’s for example. The subject matter is also important. Adult books have genres, but they’re not really divided any other way, and that’s been working for us just fine.

    This brings me to the point that you don’t mention that frustrates me so: the label. New Adult is a completely idiotic name, because it makes it sound like middle grade or teen or ‘geriatric fiction.’ The thing is that it’s NOT an age grouping by any sort of reckoning.

    NA is a GENRE, like mystery, thriller, or, in this case, romance. All of the NA books I’ve heard about have been romance novels featuring contemporary teen protagonists. I have not seen anything else. Where’s the literary fiction aimed at single 20-somethings proudly proclaiming new adult status? Or mysteries with a 22 year old hero or what have you? I’m not seeing any sort of variety. It’s basically just targeting adults/teens who like to read YA but also want hot sex scenes. Are there any you can think of that don’t fit that designation, because I would be curious to hear about them?

    Just One Day by Gayle Forman features a college age protagonist and a hot sexual scene, but it’s been cataloged 90 times as YA and only 9 times as NA on GR. Why do you think that is? Well, it has a lot to do with imprint, I think, and also that the focus is much less on romance in Forman’s book. If it’s just about the age of the protagonist, that book should be shelved by everyone as NA. For that matter, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, which features, swearing, gang rapes and gruesome levels of violence should be a teen novel. The age of the protagonist isn’t going to tell a reader whether the book will be about someone ‘like’ themselves.

    The segmentation of YA, MG, Children’s is already complicated enough, and I just do not see a reason why this is necessary in the least. Try to give me a description of what makes a book YA rather than adult. Try to give me a solid description of when a book becomes middle grade rather than children’s. Personally, I’ve tried these, believe me, and I just cannot do it. They’re helpful, but they’re not set in stone.

    If they want to make NA a thing, they should give it a different name and admit that it’s just a collection of adult books. They are, to my knowledge, just a romance novel with dark contemporary themes and a younger protagonist.

    As grounding, it’s not that I loathe the books themselves. I read Easy last week and REALLY liked it, but I would shelve it in adult fiction or adult romance. Most readers are going to be capable of finding books like that if they want them. If you want to make NA work, get authors to start writing them across genres. Right now, I still call bullshit on it.

    • Shelver 506 December 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

      See, I told you I’d like your comment. You’re thinking. I like thinking! 🙂 My rebuttal is as follows:

      I disagree that NA is a genre. For the moment, NA is full of sextyimes contemporaries. But that’s okay, because it’s NEW. YA didn’t explode into its glory of contemporaries and fantasies and sci-fis and hybrids and wackiness overnight. There’s no variety because how much variety can you expect in a genre that’s officially only a month or so old? (That’s when more than just one or two agents asked for it – my definition of official.)

      As I said in my post, I personally won’t read the current NA crop, because I don’t like that stuff. But I push forward in hopes that it will blossom into a similar unrivaled glory as YA. Given some time and prestige, IT WILL COME. But as long as we relegate NA to “just a genre,” we limit its form and its potential.

      Those mysteries with a 22-yr-old protag? Or a fantasy with a 20-yr-old thief? They don’t exist, not really. Because YA publishers won’t let their YA protags be that age, and adult publishers sexy it up even further.

      When people say “Ah, MG, YA, and adult is enough,” I wonder if that’s the same thing people said when YA was pushed through. “Those books are already in the juvenile fiction. Kids are kids. Why make it more complicated than it has to be? It’s not necessary.”

      Try to give me a description of what makes a book YA rather than adult. Try to give me a solid description of when a book becomes middle grade rather than children’s.

      But does the lack of solid description make those categories any less valid or any less necessary?

      If they want to make NA a thing, they should give it a different name and admit that it’s just a collection of adult books. They are, to my knowledge, just a romance novel with dark contemporary themes and a younger protagonist.

      Yes, for now. But when they include older thriller protags? Older mystery protags? Horror? Fantasy? Sci-fi? Issue books? Romantic contemporaries? Steampunk? Dystopian?

      If you want to make NA work, get authors to start writing them across genres.

      I’m trying. Believe me, I’m trying. But it’s a Catch-22. To get those authors, NA must grow. But how will it grow when people treat it like dog poo on the bottom of their shoes? I champion NA to help it thrive, in hopes that it will begin to sustain itself and champion me in turn.

    • Victoria Smith December 22, 2012 at 4:30 am #

      Hi! I just posted below but wanted to provide some links. On our NA fiction blog we discuss NA as a category. It helps to breakdown the specifics. And as a writer of NA sci fi I can tell you we’re floating around. 🙂 As the category grows there will indeed be more of us I assure you! To help I started a NA speculative list on Goodreads. We got about 67 books listed so far. Feel free to add to it as you find them! I hope this helps!

  5. laura carter December 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    As a 19 year old reader i love New Adult books. I dont think that it is “making” me read only those books and i dont find it restrictive. I still read other catagories and enjoy them but quite frankly i dont want my only book choices to be ones writen for younger teenagers where the main characters are about 16 or Adult books where characters are in their 30’s and 40’s. Do i want to read exclusively about people having their first kiss or going through a midlife crisis? Not really. I do still read these books, to be honest i love YA, but i think most readers like characters they can assosiate with. Although i understand these characters a little, i obviously associate better with a 19 year old college student than i do a 40 year old with children.

    New Adult books existing do not mean that people my age can only read them and nothing else. But they do give us something to read that we can relate too and therefore enjoy a lot. I think it is easy to insult the New Adult catagory if you aren’t the target age. If you are 40 then there are plenty of books you can relate too already out there. I know lots of people who love this catagory and they are of all different ages because anyone can love New Adult books. These books are already out there, it is just much easier to find them now. Before the label existed it was near impossible to find books with a college age protagonist. People who do not like the label New Adult clearly just want people to not be able to find the books that they like.

    For anyone out there who does enjoy New Adult books you should come and check out the New Adult book club on goodreads.

    In reply to Christina, Not all NA is contemporary romance though that is the most common NA genre. New Adult is an age catagory with different genres within it. I have read several NA fantasys and even NA sci-fi. Also NA books may be shelved under YA or Adult especialy if they are older books as the term New Adult is still very new. Before the term existed people obviously labeled them under other catagories.

    • Shelver 506 December 21, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

      I don’t think it’s that NA-doubters don’t want people to be able find books that they like. They’re just not personally experiencing the gap, so it’s more difficult to understand. Simple human psychology.

      Thanks, Laura!

  6. Kay December 21, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    I like this new category of books “New Adult.” Although the name isn’t exactly right, I always have a hard time finding books where the main characters are around the same age as me. I am 24. I don’t think these ever expanding New Adult books would ever take me away from reading young adult and adult books, it would just be an added bonus. No you don’t have to read books solely based on the age and maturity of a character, but it would be nice to have the option to do so if you wish. Being in your 20’s isn’t quite like being an adult adult yet, and I wish there were more books out there about life in your 20’s.

    On the other hand I also understand that some people think this new category of books is unimportant and complicates things. In the end, I agree with you though. I would love to see more New Adult books out there. Who cares if it takes a while for people to figure out where to shelve these books? It would still make my search to find a good novel about a woman or man in his/her 20’s easier because they will actually be labeled as such when searching for them on the internet, or librarians or book store clerks will be able to help you find what you are looking for.

    I didn’t even realize that New Adult is now an official category. I will have to start checking out some of these books.

    I really enjoyed your post. It was thought provoking and even thought you clearly state your opinion you also show how the other side feels.

    • Shelver 506 December 21, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

      Thank you for the kind words and your thoughtful comments. 🙂

  7. Brandy December 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    I have to say I agree 100% with Christina. We don’t need to continue age designation in books past YA, when the reason for it is to match a kid with their reading level. It’s not about them having similar age protagonists. Once you’re out of that, the bookstore/library is your oyster. We have genre labels, Good Reads, and Reader’s Advisory to do the rest. The books are there, they are just placed in their appropriate genres. And for the most part for New Adult that genre is romance.

    I also have to take issue with point #1. You are a child or you are an adult. Not everyone who is an adult chooses to act like one. This is a problem for some people no matter what decade of life they are living in. These tend to be the people who want the freedom of adulthood without the responsibility. I will say your generation seems to have a disproportionate number of these people. If you are waiting for a magical “adult feeling” to come upon you, you will be a long time waiting. You will be 40 and still claiming you’re not one. I guess, at 34, you can scathingly count me as one of those old people who refer to you as “whippernappers”, but I honestly just don’t get why that generation right behind mine has such a hard time with this concept, and why they feel such a sense of entitlement. I don’t know if the difference lies in us or the generations of our parents.

    I wouldn’t feel so vindicated. Publishers want to make money and I think this means they discovered they can do so catering to your generation’s egocentrism and sense of entitlement.

    So there it is. My daily dose of being cranky, old, and waving my cane around at the whippersnappers. You can roll your eyes and ignore me now. And now let’s talk about something fun. ♥

    • Shelver 506 December 21, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

      I covered most everything here in my comments to Christina, so I suggest you scroll up and check it out just so I don’t have to do the copy and paste jig.

      I will repeat that the issue for me is there are next to NO books with people my age. None. It doesn’t sell, blah blah blah. Whatever the reason, there IS a definable gap between 18 and 30-something. YA may not be about similar age protagonists, but it’s a definite benefit. If NA is what it takes for me to get a solid book about a 22-year-old protag, so be it!

      You are a child or you are an adult.

      According to my college classes, not so much. And try to tell any 16 year old that they’re in the same category as a ten year old. It’s only partly about an “adult feeling.” Definite, definable aspects of adult life are MISSING. Our parents pay for our cell phones, our insurance, our housing (because we live with them!). We don’t have a career. We’re not financially independent. We ARE NOT adults in anything except biology, and even that is debatable, seeing as the human brain isn’t truly mature until the age of 25-28. (I’ve read different numbers.)

      I don’t think wanting someone to connect to is egocentric. And I don’t think offering our devotion and interest in order to get the stories we want is a sense of entitlement.

    • Brandy December 22, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

      I am not saying wanting the books is egocentric. I’m saying that demanding a whole new category be carved out for you is. Those books belong in the adult genre fiction categories. When I go to choose a book I want them organized by genre not age, race, religious affiliation, etc. The only place for the age designation is to help children find books that are appropriate for their level.

      Well no, a 10 and 16 year old aren’t the same. My 4 and 8 year old aren’t the same. They are still both children. There are different stages of childhood and different stages of adulthood. There is,of course, a transition period where you are taking on the role of an adult, but still feel like a child. There is no real reason to hang out in this phase for years.

      Brains may not fully mature until 25-28. I have no idea knowing absolutely nothing about neuroscience (including what they mean by “fully mature”). I do know a lot about history, and historically it has been proven that humans can behave in a fully mature fashion long before that. I do agree that if you are living with your parents and allowing them to pay all your expenses, you are not an adult. (See what I said in my original comment. This is nothing new, there are just more people in your generation doing this comparatively.) However, you are doing a huge disservice to your peers painting them all with that brush. While the number is higher it certainly doesn’t encompass all of you. While I have read about the trend I have yet to personally witness it. All my friends in their early to mid twenties live independently and support themselves (and in a couple of cases a child too). Some of them working more than one job to make it work. They are very much adults. The life you described is only an option for a privileged minority.

    • Shelver 506 December 22, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

      Okay. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree, I suppose. You’re throwing out what (to me) feels like some very loaded statements. Since I don’t think (okay, I almost certainly KNOW) you don’t mean them to be read the way they’re hitting me, I’m going to leave them be.

      I just know what I see. I know what I’m experiencing. I know what I’m hearing from my very not-privileged friends. And maybe I’ll look back at the next generation and see what you’re seeing in mine. I just know our realities don’t match.

  8. Victoria Smith December 22, 2012 at 4:15 am #

    Love, love, LOVE this article. I fall into this category which is precisely why I started writing it. I was in grad school and couldn’t find anything to read about someone my age. While writing it, the category emerged around me and I was so grateful for it. The next wave is expansion. Multicultural, speculative, GBLT and more and I can’t wait. I’m a contributor to the new adult fiction blog NA Alley and I’m tweeting out this article. Great job. Oh, and I’m a minority and agree with your analogy above ;D

    • Shelver 506 December 22, 2012 at 11:01 am #

      Thanks, Victoria! I mentioned NA Alley in one of the above comments, and I hope people take the time to check your site out.

  9. maya noelle December 22, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    I’m glad with the new category, i dont get what’s the big fuzz about it. IT makes it easier to define what the books will be about and age. Yes YA is for Young Adult, but I honestly think New Adult nails it for those who are 18 and early 20’s. Since the first time I’ve heard about New Adult ( this past summer), I began to refer many books in the New Adult category. I believe this genre will continue to grow, yea people may get annoyed, but I am in favor of this category.

  10. Heather December 22, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    You make the case for “new adult” brilliantly! I’ve often thought there needs to be MORE delineation in YA. BIG difference between a child’s maturity at 12 years old versus 17 years old. (Sidenote they actually do this in the UK). Well done.

    • Shelver 506 December 22, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

      Do they really? Fascinating! And thank you. 🙂

  11. Christine January 5, 2013 at 1:21 am #

    Thank you for this. As one of the ‘new adults’ or ’emerging adults’, I have felt dismissed and overlooked. Our experiences are different from YA and most adult fiction. I know there are books already out there with characters in their 20s, but they are hard to find. I don’t have the time to look through every book in the store to find them. I also don’t have the patience to sift through middle-age men and their childhood nostalgia or midlife crises, so sue me. I realize there are online resources already, but that doesn’t help when I wander into a bookstore on a whim. YA is right there, and now it is usually separated into genres, so I don’t really see the issue with doing the same with NA or whatever it will called once the diversity occurs. YA has grown so much in just the 15ish years I’ve paid attention to it, so let’s not be hasty in judging and dismissing NA. I look forward to seeing where it goes.

  12. January 7, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Ahh! You are the first person I know who isn’t ME who is bringing up the emerging adulthood, developmental psychology angle. Yes! Because that’s the thing I keep trying to stress. Society is telling us that we’re grown up and then offering us jobs at Starbucks; it’s calling where we live the land of opportunity but then keeping those opportunities from large groups of people; etc etc. NA fits in the society we live in, because we’ve created a stage of life that demands it. Now I want my books, and I don’t want them only self published haha.

    Anyway, great post, and I’m glad to know there are so many people out there who are supporting this! I can’t wait to see these books.

    • Shelver 506 January 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

      That’s what comes from being a Family, Youth, and Community Science minor who lived with a psychology major, I guess. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting and high-five for keeping up the fight!

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