Think of the grownups

Time to let the inner curmudgeon out for some exercise.

So first of all we had Young Adult. Okay.

Inner curmudgeon: Couldn’t they read Wuthering Heights?

Then New Adult. Okay. I think.

Inner curmudgeon: Couldn’t they just get over themselves already and read Pride & Prejudice?

What’s next? Disaffected Late 20s? Early 30s seeking for affirmation? 40s going through marital angst (oh wait, we already have that–it’s Women’s Fiction).

Because this begs the curmudgeonly questions, What About the Grownups? What the heck are we supposed to read? Who’s writing for us? And why does the industry–and oh yes, writers, too–insist on niching us all into oblivion?

Which brings me to the subject of the week from a few weeks ago, Dear Author’s post We Should Let the Historical Genre Die and Diane’s elegant rebuttal here. It seems like historicals are filling a major niche in that editors (and some of us but so obviously not me) can have all the hot dukes they need to get through the day. But for those of us who like a bit of historical accuracy what a terrific opportunity to show young people taking on life experiences and responsibilities and all that stuff. You were either a child or an adult then, despite what your hormones thought. (Although I should add that fiction as an excuse to teach a moral lesson is just a wee bit out of date by a couple of centuries. The comment “Yes, but what does your heroine learn?” makes me growl.)

(And I should also add that we can get into squicky territory with medieval heroines in their early teens marrying aristos old enough to be their father/grandfather, but let’s not go there.)

But back to our regularly scheduled program and I think I’ve used up the parantheses quota for the day anyway. So while I’d like to say that historicals will provide some grownup reading experiences, it may not happen. I guess we’d all rather read about hot young things bumping boots, although I’m rather fond of characters who know what they’re doing after years of practice.

Thoughts, anyone?

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Maggie Robinson
9 years ago

Ha. I must say YA & NA just don’t do it for me…I’m decades past remembering those years, LOL. Like you, I like mature characters (and isn’t it crazy to think that mid to late 20-something women are “old” in historicals?). I had a reader complain that my 32 year old heroine & 30 year old hero in Lord Gray’s List were “too old” and she didn’t like that vast 2 year gap in their ages, LOL. Sigh.

Sally MacKenzie
9 years ago

LOVE it when you let your inner curmudgeon out, Janet. I can hear your lovely British voice being so elegantly, er, bitchy in my head. I confess I’ve been living under a Regency rock and just discovered–I think at this year’s RT–that there was this “new adult” category. It’s all far too complicated for my old head.

Charlotte Russell
9 years ago

We were just discussing Young Adult and New Adult at my critique group. Some love it, but the rest of us just feel no desire to revisit that age and those experiences. I think there is room for everyone in the (virtual) bookstore, but it seems there is always one subgenre that is IT for the moment and all the discussion about the IT genre can grate on the nerves when it’s not one you read or write. Thanks for making my inner curmudgeon feel better, Janet!

Elizabeth Harris
Elizabeth Harris
9 years ago

Well. I’m a member of an awesome book club (shout out to fellow members of TBCTMNBN!) and we read books from just about all genres, including young adult from time to time. Just about all genres have fared well or tanked in equal measures except for self advertised erotica (almBut New Adult??!! Really? This is a thing now? I snort copiously in its direction.

Elizabeth Harris
Elizabeth Harris
9 years ago

Forgive the typo–minuscule cell phone buttons and afternoon wine conspire to unedited posts.

New adult, humph

Isobel Carr
9 years ago

I found it quite hilarious that after calling for the death of the historical (and most especially pointing to the much of a muchness of all the Regency books out there as their main motivation), DA promptly gushed over a new Regency featuring the currently fashionable pairing of shopgirl and duke. Guess the death warrant has been rescinded.

9 years ago

I don’t know – I quite like New Adult (not the weird – excuse for erotica New Adult) because growing up it seemed like all the adventure and getting to know yourself was supposed to be over in high school. All the YA novels ended up with protagonists who knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives and how they wanted to get there. And I was still bumbling and confused – but convinced that everyone else totally had it together.

And to be honest books for the “grownups” tended to portray college as this uber-nostalgic/weird fantasy world with countless hook-ups and effortless grades (and still either knowing exactly what to do with life or it miraculously working itself out through divine intervention) and “just starting out jobs” as something miserable and dead-end (as the protagonists had been in them for years and years).

Now I’m not trying to say that everyone should try to figure out life and take comfort from books showing exactly their situation. But I do enjoy (and wish I had had) some of the college-era New Adult books before I was about to enter that stage of life. It would have been nice to know I wasn’t the only one confused but excited and to give me some sense of what to expect that wasn’t someone’s rosy-eyed made-up fantasy or a didactic lecture on “how to survive college”…

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