I have seen lots of bloggers and booktubers sharing their opinions about whether we outgrown young adult fiction as we age, and thought I too would share my personal opinion.
What actually is YA?
Firstly, when researching what young adult (YA) fiction actually is, is seems as if it’s classified as an age range as opposed to a genre/style of literature in its own right.
Why do I love YA?
What I love most about YA, is that it covers such a broad range of topics. When I asked people who don’t read often what they thought YA fiction covers, they all seemed to presume is was about teenagers falling in love. Yes, this does happen. There are YA romances, however it is so much more than that. There are YA fantasies, contemporaries, dystopians etc. And that is what I love so much about reading a YA novel, everything you could want to read about, you will be able to find in a YA book somewhere.
What are the characteristics of YA fiction?
YA literature tends to explore the changes adolescents are experiencing within their development.
April Dawn Wells claims there are 17 common traits of YA novels:
- Getting into trouble
- Interest in the opposite sex
- Single parents
- Parent problems
- Younger siblings
- Concerns over grades/school
I do agree with these 17 themes, I have seen all of them present within different YA books I have read. However, the list is definitely not definitive. Sexuality and identity are two key aspects which I think are missing and are exceptionally important within YA literature.
What is the purpose of YA fiction?
There is not a simple answer to this question. Each author has their own reasons for writing the YA book they have, and therefore there is not one specific purpose for the writing of all YA books. However, research has shown that lots of books aim to create a sense of security for readers who can relate to a character and their problems. I think it’s important to be able to relate to a character in a book, you feel as if you aren’t alone in whatever you are going through, you feel more connected to story and are able to find a lot of comfort and happiness.
Who reads YA fiction?
I still think it is wrong to say that a type of literature is ONLY for a certain age group, I find this quite limiting, you would not say a book is only for a specific gender/class etc. Most sources claim the fiction is aimed at readers aged 12-18. I’m 21 and still absolutely adore YA fiction, I am still able to relate to the protagonists with the troubles they go through and the experiences they face.
It may be surprising to some people, but numerous market estimates show that nearly 70% of all YA titles are bought by adults between the ages of 18 and 64. This doesn’t surprise me at all, like myself, I know so many people who still adore YA fiction and are over the age of 18.
When I googled the definition of outgrowing, I read that it relates to stopping having an interest in something as one matures. I don’t therefore think outgrowing has a positive connotation surrounding it, to me outgrowing seems to imply progressing to something better than before. Therefore, when I am asked whether I am outgrowing YA, the answer is definitely no. I don’t feel as if I am too old for these types of books at all, maybe one day I may feel that way, but for now I am very happy reading what I enjoy. I still really enjoy reading middle grade fiction, just because I’m not 11 years old myself, doesn’t mean it is impossible to relate to the characters or to enjoy a good story.
I completely understand when some people over 18 claim they don’t enjoy YA anymore because of their age, everybody’s reading preferences are different and that’s okay. For example, I love reading books set in a school, I find them really fun and exciting, however I know individuals that can’t connect to a book set there because it’s been too long since they’ve been to school themselves. Again, this is okay. Whatever your reading preference, just be true to yourself and read what you enjoy. If you read books that people might think are “too young” or “too old” for you, just remember their opinion doesn’t matter. If you’re enjoying books, carrying on doing it! There are so many benefits to reading, no matter what the genre/intended age!
So if you’re like me, and older than the “intended age” of YA books but still love them, you carry on doing what you’re doing and enjoy the books that make you happy!!!