My reading journey was a weird one. I started off just like any kid, devouring children’s books from age zero (my mom used to read to me) to age nine, then I transitioned to middle grade until age twelve. So far, so good, right? Well, from there I jumped straight into new adult and adult romance books. YEP. No young adult novels, whatsoever, those weren’t available to me so I went to the next category that I had at hand and at a reasonnable price (my mom also had a small collection at home that I read and could use later to exchange at the secondhand bookstore). I think I read hundreds of romance novels between age 12 and 16. There were days when I’d read two in one day.
Looking at the title of the post, you might thing “Why the hell is Fadwa rambling about this?” I’m getting somewhere, I promise. When I reached 16, pic of teenage angst, and as much as I loved romance books, I wanted to see people my age doing things, in all genres, so that’s when I started digging and found YA. I didn’t completely relate (because they were all white teens) but it was something. Fast forward a few years later, at twenty one, I still read YA and in some ways I do relate to some especially in my past experiences, but that yearning to see my own CURRENT experiences is still there. I want to read about people my ages, experiencing similar events, emotions, circumstances. I know what you’re going to say.
New Adult Novels.
They have people my age, right? I read them. I love them. But they’re so painfully romance focused. Don’t get me wrong though, I’M ABSOLUTE TRASH for romance novels, they’re my escapism when I just need something to get my mind off of life, I can devour then in no time, and at the time I’m writing this post, they’re all I’m in the mood for. But as someone on the Aro spectrum and if I didn’t know any better, looking at New Adult, I’d think that my life at this age is supposed to revolve around romance, that it’s one of the most important things, if not THE most important thing. But nah. I thankfully know better though, because that would make me feel like crap.
Knowing those things doesn’t mean that I stop wanting OTHER things for new adult. And I know I’m not the only one. There are SO MANY of us who want New Adult to thrive and expand outside of romance. The weird thing is that children books exist in all genres, so do middle grade books, same goes for YA and adult, so HOW COME WE SKIP OVER NEW ADULT? And I know that some authors are starting to reclaim it now as an age group and not something that’s automatically synonymous to romance, writing NA Fantasy mainly but most authors are still scared of it, because fact is, NA has a bad reputation, when people hear NA, they hear romance, mostly toxic, shallow reading, waste of time, etc… When in fact, they’ve just been looking in all the wrong places. Is it mostly romance? YES. But it’s not all toxic or shallow if you know where to look. There are thousands of books in the genre that are amazing.
I feel like. No, scratch that. I KNOW that once (if) New Adult gets destigmatised, authors, agents, publishers, etc…won’t shy away from putting books in the age bracket they’re appropriate for. Let’s take fantasy for example and the most common way of classifying books, the MC’s age. Less than 18? Young adult. 19 and above? A D U L T. When in fact it should be New Adult, this for me, is the most striking example of how everyone likes to stay away from New Adult. And I think that we should all work together, writers, readers, promoters and everyone else against all the bad promo the age bracket gets because we need MORE of it, beyond the romance, and it won’t happen as long as people automatically associate New Adult with romance. And not the good kind.
Give me all the different narratives, give the age bracket I belong to the same treatement all others get, there are literally so many things to be done, I feel like we’re ALL missing out on a huge amount of potential and it makes me sad. A few examples:
- NEW ADULT FANTASY. Need I say more? I know some exist (the first that come to mind are books by Claudie Arsenault, RoAnne Sylver and Elise Kova) but they’ve just started popping up and we NEED MORE.
- University experiences outside of romance. I know a lot of NA is set in college/university but we don’t get to see much of that. And it’s a shame, because that life period is so filled with change, people gaining independance, making new connections, thriving and failing, struggling and finding their footing. I just want experiences that resemble my own.
- Non-university related experiences. I know. I KNOW. I just said the opposite, but I want both. There are a lot of people who don’t attend it which is completely fine and whole different set of experiences that need to be represented especially with the stigma these people already deal with in a day to day basis.
- FRIENDSHIPS. That transition between teenagehood and adulthood is the time where a lot of friend break-ups happen. People drift apart, grow in different directions and part ways, especially since friendships in high school are based on proximity. it’s also the time a lot of lifelong (or not) friendships form. You meet people, learn what kind of people you want to surround yourself with, etc…
- Aroace representation. I can’t speak for the ace part of this statement but oh my god CAN I GET AROSPEC MAIN CHARACTERS?!!???! I just need less falling head over heels right away, or falling head over heals at all. Sometimes I just crave good ol’ non-romantic attraction (sensual, aesthetic, sexual, etc…). I know that these are rare even in YA, adult, etc, but New Adult is so romance centered that we rarely even get Aroace (or aro or ace) CODED main characters.
And don’t get me started no all kinds of representation. But those aren’t exclusive to NA, so I’m leaving them out of the post.
My brain is swimming with so many more words and ideas and things I want but this post is already at over a thousand words and all over the place so I’ll leave it at this. I hope it somewhat makes sense and conveys how I feel about the topic. Frustrated. Yearning. Hopeful.
What do you think New Adult needs more of?
Do you have any recommendations of what I mentioned above?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.