Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Difference Between YA and NA to Me


New Adult is emerging. Agents and publishers are acknowledging that the 18-24 crowd is a bit different than the 14-18 crowd, and not quite the same as the adult crowd.
Unfortunately, some articles are simplifying the difference into YA issues plus steamy sex scenes. And that’s a gross understatement.
As a reader, to me YA generally deals with issues like finding a place in the world, who you want to be, and gaining a sense of independence. It’s about personal identity and friendships and the evolution of a person from a child to a young adult. Sometimes it is about first love.

Does it sometimes cover sex and sexuality?
Why, yes, yes it does.

Now, while some of these issues continue—some of us never know exactly who we want to be—there are new issues and experiences when someone becomes a new adult. A new adult is free from the relative uniformity of spending the last 13 years or better of their life in a regimen of classes and homework. There are new options. Lots of options.
Life has just become Choose Your Own Adventure without a finger holding your place as a safety net.
They are responsible for themselves. They have decisions to make. Though their parents may give them input, it is their decision to follow the advice they are given or cast it aside. Mistakes are bigger, and there are mistakes. There is the college experience. The roommate. Maybe even the first apartment. Jobs become more important because now they have rent and food and other bills.  
While young adults are trying to figure out who they want to be and want to do, new adult is trying to figure out how to put those earlier goals into action. They are building the foundation for their future. Maybe it’s solid, or perhaps it will fall out from under them. Maybe they’ll decide their YA self completely had the wrong idea and they’ll demo the whole thing and start over.
And maybe they discover that intense relationship with their high school sweetheart was nothing more than puppy love. Maybe they discover a deeper love, or even their sexuality now.

Could there be sex?
Sure.
Does it necessarily have to be there?
No.
Why?
Because new adults have plenty of new discoveries to keep them occupied.

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