I just can’t blog about this topic anymore. It’s worn me out. But I also can’t muster the reflexive outrage Our Crowd exhibits whenever someone wonders if there’s something weird about civilian adults with a steady reading diet of books for teenagers. There is. But it’s not because these YA books are less complex (a conclusion the Slate author can only reach because she’s comparing commercial YA fiction to literary adult fiction) but because one hopes (I hope) adults are interested in more things–adult things, even–than the YA novel offers. For all its variety and subgenres, YA literature is still more thematically and linguistically narrow than people invested in it like to admit. But I would argue that both the narrative variety and thematic thinness of current YA stem from the desires of its adult fans, not from the limitations of being books “for kids.” Adults have always made the big decisions about books for young people. But now they are doing so from the position of consumers, not gatekeepers. If the majority of a book’s readers are adults reading for their own pleasure, does it even make sense to call it a book for teenagers? So to attack or defend such a book on the grounds that it is “for kids” seems a real displacement of premises.
Why do we even call it YA anymore?
June 8, 2014 by 24 Comments