Sunday, December 25, 2011

Life after 18 in fiction

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I love young adult fiction and I think it's wonderful that books like The Hunger Games and Twilight (yes, even that book) have made it such a hot commodity. I'm just starting to wonder what isn't considered young adult at this point because most protagonists seem to be teens or young adults (as in 18-25).

The library called to let me know a hold I requested came in, so I rushed over there on Friday to pick it up before everything shut down for Christmas. Of course, I couldn't resist browsing through the shelves of new fiction and YA fiction. I found the strangest things in the strangest places. For example, in adult new fiction, I found a copy of Joanne Beard's In Zanesville. I'm not going to say that book doesn't have any adult content, but the protagonist is a teenager, and it's a coming-of-age story. Meanwhile, all kinds of strange stuff is popping up in the YA section. Want examples? How about Ender's Game, Pride and Prejudice, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks?

So, what happens to characters after they pass beyond that tender age? I know they aren't all subject to the fate of the cult followers in Children of the Corn, but they might as well be. A Passage to India had quite a few characters who were well into their adult years, but that book was published in the 1920s. The same goes for many of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels. Who knows of something contemporary and good about characters in their 30s or 40s? Maybe we just get too boring at that point :-/