I recently read a very interesting opinion piece in the Globe and Mail, The Curious Incident of the Y/A label, by author Joan Clark.
This article discusses North American bookstore’s and publisher’s use of the Young Adult (YA) fiction label, which we use at the public library as well.
Ms. Clark feels that the use of the label greatly restricts a book from finding it’s full audience. That there lies great crossover potential for many young adult and adult fiction titles that is discouraged by separating and/or labeling the collections.
Apparently the YA label is not used in the UK, where fiction is classified as “for 12 years old and under” and “over 12 years old”.
I think I might agree with Joan?
Some of my most satisfying reads as an adult over the years have been classified as YA.
, by Alan Stratton.
This story deeply affected me and is still inspiring/haunting me two years after reading it.
Honour the Sun
and Silent Words
. These two YA novels by Ruby Slipperjack
have also left a lasting impression on me, despite reading them as an adult more than 15 years ago.
I have also offered up these titles as reading suggestions to other adults.
As well, I recall reading Joseph Heller’s Catch 22
as a teen, having picked up my mother’s copy. I really enjoyed it, so much that I have re-read it several times. This title would not have been on the reading radar of many teens of the time.
Joan’s arguments might also be used for making a case against using any genre stickers. I bet a lot of readers would enjoy Robert J. Sawyer
(Science fiction) or Peter Robinson
(Mystery) if they ignored the stereotypes associated with genre stickers.
Having said all that, I do understand the value of making it easier for readers to broadly identify the parts of our collection that are most appealing to them. Genre stickers are very helpful in that regard, as are genre separations.
Perhaps the only truly effective solution is the case of Harry Potter
: create separate adult and youth versions and shelf them in all parts of the collection.
What do you think?