Yesterday I asked if New Adult really is just sexed up Young Adult and if that is all that it is. At the same time, I thought that New Adult has so much more potential to branch out. It does not need to be confined to NA Romance. There is so much more to the existence of a 21-year-old than all-consuming passion for this other person (or persons, who knows?). As a university student, I can safely say that for me and also many others I have come into contact with in the course of my study, romance and sex hardly are our primary pursuits. Of course, maybe it does matter a fair bit for those who are dating but for those of us who aren’t, our minds aren’t constantly fixated on these issues. Even for those who are hooking up, and possibly worried where their non-relationships are even leading them, there are many other things that preoccupy those who are in the target age-group of NA books.
Preoccupations range from the mundane decisions of whether or not to attend that morning lecture when we’d much rather be somewhere else, like our warm and cozy beds, to the somewhat paralysing decision of where to start our careers. Friendships are also different from those we had in high school. It becomes easier to avoid people we don’t particularly like because home room or form classes no longer exist. In the same vein, it becomes tougher to maintain friendships that thrived because of close vicinity. Choosing different majors, and different universities too means we have to put in much more effort to maintain those friendships that we often took for granted.
Family problems also become more real. Our parents have mostly gotten used to the fact that we no longer are their babies and treat us accordingly, as mature adults. They are more likely going to relate problems to us now. When we were younger, they were very prone to just not telling us what bothered them because they wanted to shelter us from the real world. This no longer is the case. Thus even relationships close to home undergo changes.
Then there are those who take it upon themselves to travel the world and to find themselves. Sending a 15-year-old protagonist packing alone to Nepal or Cambodia just doesn’t seem very realistic. But if a 19-year-old so chooses, then it makes a lot more sense that they could. Maybe he or she would like to spend a month or two in a kibbutz in Israel or backpack through Europe. Independent travel is so much more accessible to those in their late teens and early twenties.
Not forgetting about those who don’t go on to college or university. Vocational schools might just offer interesting settings as well. Some already know what they want to do straight out of high school, deciding that furthering their education would be futile.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that there are so many more things that can be explored in NA. Characters would be much more mature and be prepared to handle situations that would’ve been bizarre at the hands of much younger characters. And while my elaboration above on why it doesn’t have to be all about romance is most applicable to contemporary books, I’m sure this greater maturity can find its place in science fiction and fantasy as well.
One might argue that these books that I speak of don’t have to be classified as NA. They fit quite nicely on adult fiction shelves too. I suppose they do but in a way, categorisation does make finding specific books much easier. It is also from that vantage point that I ask, what do you wish to see in New Adult fiction, if it really is to become established as a category unto itself?