Understanding and defining young adult literature
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Concluding paragraphs: "Yet even in this uncertain time in life, many Y.A. novels end in hope. The last words of the Harry Potter series are “All was well.” After coping with the death of his best friend and first love, Pudge from John Green’s Looking For Alaska decides, “We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken.” The Fault in Our Stars ends with the main character knowing she is going to die, but realizing that her short life was worthwhile and meaningful. While these may be slightly extreme examples, perhaps the category of Young Adult Literature could be renamed Stories for those who Feel Things Intensely, Have Uncertainty about their Place in the World, and Are Seeking Some Sense of Hope. Those emotions do not magically go away on our twentieth birthdays. Green argues that those big questions matter for teenagers, and that they matter for adults too – adults are simply better at ignoring them. Y.A. Lit does not always offer answers to the big questions, but in one way or another they offer solidarity for those asking them. They speak in a modern way, particularly accessible to the amorphous age group “young adults,” but are undeniably relevant for all. Young Adult Literature should continue to have no boxes to check in order to satisfy requirements; the definition should remain as fluid as those who pick up the books. And if we are in the midst of a Y.A. Lit renaissance, then there is no telling what exciting innovation may come next.