I’m a new adult.
Being a new adult is daunting, particularly during your last semester of college. You re-ask questions you asked as a high school senior. But the answers to these questions mean something very different than it did then.
I have been reading Young Adult off and on for years, loving most experiences. Regardless, I have still longed for something that fit my specific type of existential crisis. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about that awkward time when you’re expected to fend for yourself while still feeling like a teenager? I’m 22, not 16 or 36. Where are my stories?
Unfortunately, NA is still a young category. So let’s count down some things I still hope to see more in future NA. Some are already present, but others really need some work.
8. Younger Writers
I have nothing against older adults writing YA and NA, that would be ridiculous. Almost all YA I’ve read has been from older adults. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be nice to see some people in my age group churning out some work for this category (myself included).
I can understand why YA isn’t generally written by teens. They are busy with school and have not necessarily reached the level of craft skills necessary to do so. (I don’t buy this, but it’s something to consider I guess.)
New Adults like us (age 18-26) are actually adults who are likely able to string entertaining and relatable content in a semi-sophisticated way. Why are we not writing our own stories en masse?
7. Ignoring the Sex Fear Mongers
I’ll admit that NA is fairly new and as such is trying to find an identity (ironic as that is). Still, I don’t think it will have a shelf in bookstores like Young Adult. I don’t really think it should .
Honestly, it would probably be good to consider it the next natural step from young adult, the way games are labeled as T (Teen) or M (Mature 17+).
The main argument I’ve seen in my research is this idea of how much sex is “appropriate?” In every article I read, this was the big side issue, if not the main issue.
We have a puritanical thought process when it comes to teens, as if we should tell them that they should never ever have a sexual thought. They are not allowed to be sexual beings. Such as with the issue with Diary of a Part-Time Indian that was called 50 Shades of Gray for Kids. *sigh*
Not to say we should throw up our hands and start writing YA smut, but teens are not as dumb as you think. They have hormones, yes, but a book probably is not going to turn them into raving sex fiends. Plus, many are already reading from the erotica section anyway. This is why it’s important for there to be clarity, confidence, and safety. Sex should be handled in ways that allow a teen to learn something important about themselves and those around them. (In the off chance they accidentally-on-purpose grab a book labeled NA.)
6. Cut Down on the Traditional Romance Themes
Seems contradictory, I know. I’m not a romantic in the sense one expects a girl to be. (Those silly gender roles.) This causes several problems when choosing movies but even more when choosing books. I can remember so many books I’ve read that were 80+ percent romance/sex focused (usually recommended by my mother or close friends). Each time, I either stopped after the third sex scene or pressed through, disappointed by the end.
I would rather there be a fresh look at romance, the future of relationships, and relationships that are not the norm. What happens when you’re not ready to be married and your partner is? What happens if you never are going to get married or conversely are obsessed with it? What about abusive relationship? Long distance? Dating a teen accidentally? On purpose? Dating the TA? Arranged marriages? Intercultural relations? Interracial? Same-sex? Let’s not create the same unjust majority that is still in YA.
There is more to being a new adult (and young adult) than romance and sex! Some of us aren’t interested in those things and are driven towards other goals. Some travel abroad. Some are learning languages and joining speech communities. Some are trying to find lifelong friends. Some are determined to be married by the end of college, sex all but irrelevant. Some of us have to juggle full time jobs and a full course load. Some of us aren’t even in college and are just trying to survive with a job. Some are dealing with the side effects after getting pregnant as a teen. There are family relation issues. Returning home after college. Depression. Jobs. Crisis of Faith! Not identifying with your heritage. Reconnecting with your heritage. The possibilities are so plentiful and so unique to this age group.
And don’t even get me started on genre. Fantasy, Scifi, Historical, Dystopian…Let’s do it!
4. Better Cover Art
Another small note. I saw these covers. No. I disagree fully. Though similarly could be said of YA.
3. Life Beyond College
As a NA about to graduate I would appreciate there being plenty of fiction related to this topic. There is more to being a New Adult than the college years, as I’ve said. Peace corps, work/travel abroad, dead-end jobs, great overwhelming jobs, starting a business, starting a family as a young person, anything that will make a great stress filled story.
2. Bridge in the Industry/Literary Citizenship
NA seems to be a great place for literary citizenship. It was pushed and grown by it. Blogging and online promotion are the main driving forces that keep this category from being a trend that fades out. It thrives on interactions between authors and readers.
In several places I read, there was the idea of NA being more than just a bridge between YA and “Adult.” It is also a bridge between self-published work and traditional publishers.
Princess and The Frog Concept Art by Chris Appelhans
This is the most important point and the one I’ve seen the least about. It deserves it’s own post, and it will get one, but for now it will be a point here.
It’s a shame that this is even an issue, and I know it’s not a malicious thing. People are writing what they know. That being the case, we need more writers of color in this category (all categories). Most protagonists in the category are white women. Again, there’s nothing wrong with them. There just needs to be more writing done by other POC who can give interesting and unique views on this transitional period of life.
Huff Post Books
The Christian Science Monitor
Yalsa: The Hub