Towards a definition of "YA" (was Re: Mark Haddon (no significant spoillers))

minnow at minnow at
Sun Feb 22 11:14:49 EST 2004

Melissa wrote:

A long post about the YA category of books which left me more baffled than
I was before.  I know that Melissa is a Jeenyus and Allways Right, so the
flaw in my understanding of her argument must lie in me and not in the
reasoning.  I think I need more information in order to be able to follow

So can someone (Melissa or *anyone*!) explain to me in small words and in
short simple sentences:

1] what the purpose of the YA category is meant/believed to be if it is
*not* to suggest that these are books suitable/appropriate for people of a
particular age-group (which implies that there are other books which are
not appropriate for these people, as does the emphatic way people on the
list have said "That isn't a YA book!" about one book and another)


2] if "young adult" doesn't *actually* *mean* "suitable/appropriate for
young adults to read", how anyone is supposed to be able to divine this
fact, if s/he goes by the name of the category in trying to work out what
it is.

I don't think that lists of what books "ought" or "ought not" to be in it
will be any help, because examples won't answer the questions, and will
probably just lead to debate about the rights and wrongs of individual
books being in or out of the lists.  Nor will saying what YA *isn't* meant
to be, because that doesn't say what it is, it just tightens the ring-fence
round it very slightly with each example.  What I'm after is what it
actually means.

Thank you very much.


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