Adult Books for Young Adults

ConversesRead YA Lit

Afegeix-te a LibraryThing per participar.

Adult Books for Young Adults

jul. 24, 2020, 10:58am

The genre of Young Adult Literature and its rise in popularity is a fairly recent phenomenon. In the past, books were either written for children or for adults. There were a few authors in the 1800s and early 1900s who were known for writing books that appealed to young readers: Lewis Carroll, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum. And it was a female writer, Sarah Trimmer, who coined the term "books for young persons" and identified the age range as 14-21, which is still what we would consider YA today.

In the mid-20th century, we see books written for adults that captured the attention of young readers and we also see the emergence of books specifically written for a younger audience. The former being titles like The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Bell Jar, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that all dealt with difficult and "adult" themes. Difficult themes also found their way into literature that was specifically written for teens. The Outsiders was a revelation, made even more remarkable because it was written by a teen herself, and continues to be one of the best-selling YA novels of all time. Bless the Beasts and Children and Deathwatch, written for teens in the 1970s also helped usher in this genre that, through the 1980s, was marked with challenging novels written for young audiences with topics like assault, pregnancy, suicide, and murder at the forefront.

As publishers pushed books with these themes to adolescents, booksellers and librarians began creating young adult sections in stores and libraries. This was the first time we saw a distinct shift in really marketing something not toward youth nor adults, but to the ages in between.

The late 90s and early 2000s led to a resurgence in young adult books with several blockbusters leading the way. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series was not written for young adults but captivated older readers anyway. Followed closely by the Twilight and Hunger Games series and suddenly YA was a massive market with big dollar potential. This category began to explode. What was formerly a "movie-of-the-week" / "after school special" sort of genre now included numerous titles spanning all genres and sub-genres like graphic novels and manga, fantasy and science fiction, romance, mystery, dystopian, techno-thrillers, and contemporary Christian.

In the mid-2010s, more attention was drawn to the lack of diversity in youth literature. In the several years following, diversity numbers seem to have improved: One survey showed that in 2017, a quarter of children's books were about minority protagonists, almost a 10% increase from 2016.

The distinctions among children's literature, young adult literature, and adult literature have historically been flexible and loosely defined. This line is often policed by adults who feel strongly about the border. Some novels originally marketed to adults are of interest and value to adolescents, and vice versa, as in the case of books such as the Harry Potter series of novels and Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which are middle grade series. *

*(written with some help from Wikipedia)

What are books written for adults that you think are appropriate for a Young Adult audience? I think a lot of coming-of-age novels would fit into this category. I don't think Catcher in the Rye would ever land in a YA section due to the language, but it is obviously a book that speaks to teens and is almost hard to believe that it was written for adults, though now it is required reading for high school students.

Editat: jul. 24, 2020, 12:18pm

Here are some suggestions.
Every year, Booklist Editors choose a selection of Best Adult Books for Young Adults Booklist is a book-review magazine that has been published by the American Library Association for more than 100 years, and is widely viewed as offering the most reliable reviews to help libraries decide what to buy and to help library patrons and students decide what to read, view, or listen to. Here are their picks for 2019 in the category of Nonfiction.

Best Adult Books for Young Adults - Nonfiction

Boys Will Be Boys by Clementine Ford.

This book explores the social trap of toxic masculinity and encourages men to fight against it. A timely cultural critic, she dissects recent events and long-standing societal practices, while remaining hopeful for a future of justice and equality. This book was preceded by Fight Like a Girl, which was written to empower women.

Making Comics by Lynda Barry

Page after page of hand-written exercises, designed to break ingrained habits and inspire creativity, make up Barry’s guide to comics. Though the theory behind the books is serious, the playful tone, lively format, and deep focus on technique make this supremely useful and genuinely fun.

More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth

With lyrical prose, former Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Welteroth shows what it truly means to be a leader in her inspiring memoir. Teens will connect with Welteroth’s accounts of her child- and young-adulthood and admire the grace and drive behind her achievements.

She Came to Slay by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

Dunbar’s treatment of Harriet Tubman’s life conveys the tremendous power of Tubman’s accomplishments, all in an uplifting, accessible, and thoroughly modern tone that will leave even the least historically inclined readers in awe.

Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by Jacob Tobia

Tobia, assigned male at birth, is a gifted storyteller who writes with insight, lucidity, occasional anger, and wit about coming to understand their gender identity and give it a comfortable name. This fascinating story is one of the best trans narratives available.

Slime: How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us by Ruth Kassinger

This enlightening dive into the wide world of algae explores the varied ways these organisms are used in everyday life, from food to fashion, bioengineering, marine biology, farming, and more. Kassinger’s winsome tone and contagious curiosity will entice readers with a broad array of interests.

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

Takei’s graphic memoir relates his childhood experiences in internment camps during WWII and their reverberating impact on his adult life with a compelling blend of nostalgia and outrage. Becker’s emotional, manga-inspired artwork emphasizes the personal toll in this all-too-relevant account of the recent past.

Editat: jul. 24, 2020, 12:14pm

RE: Boys Will Be Boys: Power, Patriarchy and the Toxic Bonds of Mateship and Fight Like a Girl - Both of these books have been made into short documentary films. My church actually screened these films for families to watch with their kids, so I can attest that these titles would be appropriate for teens, though written specifically for adults.

I've also had Sissy and They Called Us Enemy on my list for a while.

Has anyone read any of these? Would you recommend them for teens?

jul. 24, 2020, 11:38am

Booklist Best Adult Books for Young Adults - FICTION pt. 1

The Ash Family by Molly Dektar.

En route to college, freshman Berie meets the alluring Bay, who persuades her to come to his “farm,” i.e., an environmentalist cult with a Jim Jones-style leader. Berie is easily indoctrinated but soon recognizes the utopia’s dangerous underside.

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

In a lush historical fantasy set during the Spanish Inquisition, Fatima escapes her pampered palace life to save a friend, embarking on a journey that tests their endurance and their faith. An affirming blend of Muslim culture, adventure, magic, and themes of love and power.

Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand

It’s 1915, and a serial killer is preying on young girls in Chicago. After Vivian’s sister disappears, the 14-year-old disguises herself as a boy (for her safety) and finds herself on the trail of the killer, who is haunting the local amusement park.

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Cruz masterfully provides insight into the 1960s Dominican immigration to the U.S. through the experiences of her 15-year-old protagonist, Ana Canción. Capturing both the gritty reality of forging a new life and Ana’s fierce motivation, Cruz’s novel will resonate with young adults flexing their independence.

Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden

Drayden artfully explores a love story between two Black girls from different castes in this Afrofuturistic tale, set in a starship comprised of the insides of a whale-like space beast. Its mesmerizing world-building and compelling characters will hook readers of any age.


Has anyone read one of these? If so, do you agree that they hold appeal for younger readers and fans of YA Lit? I'm familiar with Dominicana and have had it on my wishlist for a while.
I think Curious Toys sounds fascinating and so does Escaping Exodus, but I'm not sure it's the book for me. I hear Nicky Drayden is a bit twisted, but I haven't read any of her writing.

Editat: jul. 24, 2020, 12:15pm

Booklist Best Adult Books for Young Adults - FICTION pt. 2

Gods with a Little G. by Tupelo Hassman

Teenage Helen entrancingly narrates as she and her friends invent their own ways to learn about life beyond the painful confines of their religiously isolated town. Irreverent, wise, heartbreaking, and heart-mending, this account of everyday challenges is told with dazzlingly original style.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead *

Two Black teens at Nickel Academy take very different approaches to the racist, sadistic, and sometimes fatal treatment of students by the school’s faculty, but together they try to expose the disturbing truth about the reform school in this tautly focused novel, based on real events.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Galaxy “Alex” Stern has won a place at Yale because of her ability to see ghosts. She’s the newest initiate in the ninth of the university’s notorious secret societies, but her role takes a turn after a townie is murdered. Part mystery, part coming-of-age, all delicious atmosphere.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Well-liked athlete Connell and antisocial outsider Marianne, two of their high school’s brightest, begin a secret, intense relationship that ends before they go to the same college. Rooney follows their subsequent reunions and realizations in this stunning, subtle, character-driven coming-of-age story.


gods with a little g and Ninth House both sound like really interesting coming-of-age novels. I think I'm going to add both of them to my wishlist. Normal People has been on my wishlist for quite a while, but man, I'm not sure it's appropriate for YA audiences. I watched the full miniseries and it was fantastic but definitely adult. It starts when the couple is high school age and progresses through college and grad school. I think the high school part is appropriate, but it's an intense romance/bittersweet relationship novel and the latter part is pretty risque and adult in a sexual way. At least in the miniseries. I could see it as a New Adult title - or whatever they call that 18-24 age range, but not so sure about YA. I also read The Nickel Boys and it was my pick for my fave book of last year. It's also pretty adult, but I think this definitely counts as an "adult book for young adults" as long as the young adult in question is capable of reading traumatic themes. It deals with heavy issues of race and abuse and is based on a true story about young boys sentenced to reform schools in the Jim Crow-era South. These "schools" were much much worse for the black boys who ended up there and many of them never made it out. The writing style is easy enough for high school age students, though, so I can definitely see this on the list. *Nickel Boys was recently awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

jul. 24, 2020, 1:28pm

American Library Association's Alex Awards are given each year to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.
for winners since 1998