Have you ever read a book that didn’t seem to fit squarely in either Young Adult (YA) or Adult fiction? It might have been about someone who has just moved out of home to go to uni. Or someone who’s just finished uni and is now trying to prove himself in his first professional job.
The protagonists in these books are too mature to be considered YA protagonists, but they’re not worldly enough to be considered Adult protagonists. So where do they fit?
According to St Martin’s Press, they fit in a new, previously-unidentified genre called ‘New Adult’. JJ from St Martin’s Press explains that, ‘New Adult [fiction] is about young adulthood, when you are an adult but have not established your life as one (career, family, what-have-you)’.
Kristin Hoffman elaborates further, explaining that New Adult fiction is, ‘…about transition. The transformation from child to adult doesn’t happen overnight—just ask as anyone who is or has been (or is a parent to) a teenager. But the transition from teen to adult doesn’t happen overnight either. There’s a period of time where adulthood feels like a new pair of shoes. The expectations of independence and self-sufficiency are still new, still being broken in. New Adults are the people who have just begun to walk in those shoes; New Adult fiction is about their blisters and aches.
Kristin goes on to explain that New Adult protagonists are mostly likely in the range of 18 to 26 years old. ‘College, first jobs, first relationships, or marriage… There’s a lot that can happen when you’re 18-26, but the fact is, those same events feel very different at that age than they do at 12 or at 40. Because kids and teens focus on the present, while adults draw on their past experience to inform their present and future decisions. New Adults are somewhere in between…. That distinction might seem subtle, but it comes through loud and clear in the voice of New Adult fiction.’
I’ve been overjoyed to discover this new genre of fiction. Why? Because I’ve always described Tangled (my novel-in-progress) as Young Adult, but that categorisation has never sat comfortably with me. Now I know why. Now I have a genre that fits. Tangled – which follows the journey of two country teenagers as they try to survive living away from home to attend an inner city university – is well and truly New Adult. It describes many of those New Adult blisters and aches Kristin talked about, including struggling to get along with flatmates and trying to deal with changing relationships with close friends.
A number of my favourite books could be classified as New Adult, including:
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
So, what do you think? Do you agree there should be a New Adult genre? Or do you think it’s splitting hairs and the Young Adult and Adult genres are sufficient? Are there any books you’d classify as New Adult fiction? Do tell!