if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

Ask Daphne! Where’s the border?

preppyshoesPreppy shoes and an email from KLo that continues our discussion from yesterday, sort of:

Basically, what I write sort of borders somewhere between YA and adult fiction. Is there any hard and fast answer for where exactly that line is?

There’s an easy answer, but there are exceptions. For the most part, books set in high school with teen protagonists are YA. But what about Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, you may ask? Well, in that book, there was a tone that felt more adult than YA. I’ve also found that the device of looking back to high school years usually makes a book feel more like an adult title than a YA, which is more often set in the present. (Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl, I’m talking to you.)

There was a time when YA couldn’t include a book with a protagonist in college, but that’s changing. Still, for the most part, that summer after senior year is around the cut-off.

And it makes sense. For most teens, going away to college is a huge break, an enormous change from what went before in their lives. On a personal note, I think back to my own experiences in college, and don’t remember having a chance to read for pleasure for most of those four years. I read a lot, sure (I was an English and History major, after all), but I didn’t have a chance to read for pleasure except on vacations — and even that I’m just guessing about now. I didn’t get back to serious reading for pleasure until after college.

KLo, hope that helps! For my readers, feel free to disprove my point! Can you think of some great YAs that are set beyond the summer after senior year? Or do you have other examples of adult titles interloping on the YA setting?

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