When I was editing One of Our Own, I was informed at one point that I was writing a young adult book. While I certainly believe that a young adult could easily read and enjoy my book, I do not believe, and never have, that my book is a young adult book.
The discussion shocked and shook me to my roots. Just because I have a young protagonist does not mean I have a ya book. After all, my book explores themes about finding your place, struggle for self-identity, self-acceptance, and yes, the coming-of-age story. In an era where it is estimated we will hold seven distinct career’s in our life, where we struggle to accept ourselves because we hate something about our bodies, our personality, or something else, where many of us want to find acceptance among our peers, families, or coworkers, these themes are not just for the young adult.
Personally, I think it’s ridiculous to classify a book by the age of the protagonist. I understand it originated as a way to classify a book on the bookshelf, but I feel we went too far. To say that a young protagonist unequivocally equates to ya is a gross oversimplification. What is the sayings “all generalizations are dangerous, including this one”?
Young adult books should address issues young adults face, cutting, bulimia, etc…
When the issue came up, I wrote it off; even when the person insisted that Ender’s Game was YA. I loved Ender’s Game and read it many times over. But the book is not ya, the majority of the issues that the six-year-old to eleven/twelve-year-old Ender Wiggin runs into have very little to do with the issues that children and teens face today.
The Introduction to Ender’s Shadow, Orson Scott Card states “Though it was never intended as a young-adult novel, it has been embraced by many in that age group…”
While there is an absolute coming-of-age theme in One of Our Own, the issues Aethan has to deal with, nature and technology, am I human, do I want to remain in a position where I feel as though I am a puppet/how do I take control of my life, none of these are issues a young adult faces in today’s society.
So id you are in interested in a book that discusses what it means to be human, where is the line between good/evil, right/wrong, and as I said in my previous post Are you, My Reader?:
What I can say is that you’re my reader if you love:
- character-driven stories;
- exploring different worlds and people;
- exploring human nature;
- stories where life is never as simple as right or wrong;
- larger than life situations and characters who face human problems;
- characters that have to make the difficult decisions;
- characters who make their own path, throwing away the map and facing the consequences.
One of Our Own does all of that and more.