NA is still an emerging category. It’s also a category that’s widely debated, because a whole bunch of people don’t think it should be one.
Some of the reasoning is understandable. I guess people think it’ll lead to books being characterised in increasingly-smaller target ranges – books from ages 0-3, books for 21-year-old males. But I think NA is incredible important, and here are some reasons why. And I’m going to intersperse those reasons with random photos, because I can.
First a brief summary of NA: it’s still not a label that’s used a lot in book marketing (especially in Australia, where most NA is still marketed as YA). Basically, it bridges the gap between YA and adult, and commonly takes place in college/university (but I’d also love to see NA with characters who take different paths!).
1. The transition between childhood and adulthood is continually lengthening.
I’m nineteen right now – turning twenty this year (terrifying). But do I feel like an adult? Not really. So much adult fiction is focused on marriage, kids and careers, but most new adults don’t have any of that. My Nanna told me the other day how she was married at twenty.
But I won’t even be finished university until I’m twenty-three. It’s a completely different world, and our stories hardly exist. Economically, many university students still live at home with their parents, and yet we can’t connect with many of the issues found in YA high school novels.
(I definitely want an NA Harry Potter tbh)
2. From a marketing perspective, you’re tapping into a demographic that spends a lot of money.
We’re the generation that spends $22 on avocado toast, apparently. There’s the common stereotype of the poor university student, which to an extent is true, but what about after university? What about people my age working full-time with no dependent children? Like it or not, many “new adults” won’t pick up a YA book. But if NA was a more recognised genre there might be more people my age reading books, because those books would be geared towards us.
3. There really aren’t many well-known stories for a new adult audience.
If you asked me to recommend you a book set in high school, I could probably think of three thousand off the top of my head. If you asked me to recommend you a book set in university, I could maybe list five. And from there, the list dwindles down even more. High school graduates on a gap year? First-year trade apprentices? Volunteering overseas? Unemployed twenty-somethings?
Fast forward a few years.
Where are the books about young people getting their first nine-to-five job? Or figuring out how to ask for a raise? Trying to move out for the first time? Navigating their sexuality when everyone else seems to have figured it out? Battling racism or sexism in the workforce, thinking about changing their careers entirely, wanting to go back to uni, wanting to travel…
There are so many possibilities out there. And even though I will always love YA, I would love to see more books that take place during this incredible, frightening, vital part of our lives.
4. You don’t have the issues with censorship that occur in YA.
Censorship is one of the saddest things that happens with YA fiction, and it makes me so angry that really important books – which could HELP teens – are taken away because of homophobia or racism or misguided ideas of what teens should be reading.
So as much as I hope that there’ll be less censorship in YA, I can’t help but think that NA doesn’t have those issues. One of the beauties about books is that – unlike TV/movies – there are no restrictions. Authors can be as vulgar as they want. And I kind of like that freedom.
(Fangirl is one NA book that I really love)
Here are some recommendations for NA books:
How weird that I’ve picked all pink/red ones. ANYWAY, I’ve read all of these and I really love them, but it also is VERY obvious that many aren’t very diverse. Everything Leads to You has an f/f romance, but others are very white-cis-het. So we definitely need more.
So tell me what you think! Is NA stupid – should we just have YA and adult, or do you think NA should be more popular? What are some of your favourite NA books?