Where do we draw the line between childhood, adolescence, new adulthood, and young adulthood?
Are there such definitive ages that are set in stone?
Of course not! The ages of each is a transitional stage ranges depending on each and every individual; the word ‘teenager’ itself only became widely used in the early 1950s when the rise in goods and media attention became directed and focused on young people(focus of which has never really gone away). As a result, literature, fiction and books have not gone unaffected, rather by the by creating the young adult and new adult genre of novel that exists now, of which has had enormous successful and still it booming! Yet why is that?
In YA recently the most profound theme is the protagonists overcoming of alienation teenagers and adolescents feel from society; with a search for identity as they come of age and step into adulthood. It rarely goes unrepresented no matter how significant to the story line or not. We as readers follow their journey and urge for them to succeed in self-discovery, in which we ourselves are provided with the ability to not only act as silent companions, but also do the same.
From classics such as The Catcher in the Rye by JD. Salinger, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; to recent contemporary releases like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, Mosquitoland by David Arnold, and The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer.
Yet coming of age fiction is not limited to the genre of contemporary fiction; we can find such stories throughout the most amazing book series’ like Harry Potter by J K Rowling, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and others like the Percy Jackson series by Rick Roirdan, the Throne of Glass series by Sarah Maas, and even the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi. The list could just go on and on and on!
The question you may be asking yourself at this current moment is what is the point to this article? The point is mostly to emphasise the fact that novels, and literature, are themselves absolutely amazing sources for the younger generation of today: mainly for the reason to help us feel less alone on our own personal journeys of self-discovery. Most, if not all, of us feel like we don’t belong at some stage throughout our teenage years and into the years we walk the bridge into adulthood. Books make us feel like we have company, especially YA fiction!
This article is an advocating piece of a genre that is sometimes a very underrated for the strength and importance it does indeed have. The stories and journeys we become a part of can potentially lead us to make similar decisions to our favourite characters; even lead us to want to be like them, and eventually become like them. The characters we befriend aid us in so many different ways. Therefore don’t stop reading YA, not even when you reach the moment that you whisper to yourself ‘I’m an adult now’. For the journey we take to discover our true identity never truly ends, and we can always do with befriending more unknown characters who hold the possibility to be most important idols and figures for inspiration.