I’m currently taking a genre study course on young adult literature, and we’re trying to find a way to define the genre, so that it encompasses current YA, classic YA, and all the subgenres of YA.
We’re finding it to be incredibly difficult! But out class has agreed on these points:
- YA must have a young adult protagonist (arguments about age continue…11-21, 13-23, 13-19?)
- YA is a coming-of-age and/or first encounters novel
- YA has characters and/or experiences that the reader can relate to
Other aspects of our definition we argue over, such as:
- respecting the intelligence of the reader (authors like Dessen and Green certainly do, but some other authors write less literary and more entertaining/simple language)
- accessible language (some classic YA, like Jane Eyre seems to be categorized as lately, doesn’t quite meet this)
- including “classic YA” (is it YA? Was it thrown in because they’re taught to YA students in school?)
- are the characters or situations relatable at all?
- character-driven, or plot-driven, or is it pacing: fast and slow?
What do you think defines young adult literature? If you could define it in 1-3 sentences, what would be your definition of YA?