The NA Debate
I want to be extremely clear before I go any further. I don’t usually post controversial ideas, but I just can’t sit here and not say anything.
Also, I am NOT a bandwagon jumper.
Before we talk about books, let’s take sports as a perfect example of this. When my football team, the Dallas Cowboys, began losing many of my friends decided that this was the perfect time to become Eagles fans. They were more concerned with the team’s stats than they were sticking to a team who needed a few years to grow. Now that it has been more like 10 years, and they still aren’t champions, I am still hanging on hope for The Cowboys. Crazy? Maybe, but I won’t give up on them.
If you aren’t a huge football fan, then let’s look at my record in regards to baseball. When I was little, Mike Schmidt was extremely popular and played for the Philadelphia Phillies. Everyone surrounding me, family included, were fans but not me. I decided early on that I was a Mets fan and my dad ended up taking me to a few games at Shay Stadium. I loved seeing the Mets play.
Now some 20 years later, The Mets are not a team you brag about liking. Somewhere in my college years, I began to not only root for The Mets, but also The Yankees—The Subway Series was especially difficult for me to watch as you can imagine. I am NOT a Yankees fan because of Rodriguez, CC or Jeter. I actually think it was because I watched a few games with my softball teammates and admired the coaching staff that turned me into a fan. It doesn’t’ hurt that my grandfather, Grumpy as we called him, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.
What is my point? Well, this is the way I feel about people who are taking sides in the NA vs. YA debate. I read everything and I don’t choose books because they are labeled one particular way or another. YA novels have been my rock for such a long time, especially since these books are what my students are reading. I like being up to date with what they read and what they are talking about. This has allowed me to build relationships with my students and be a better teacher of reading and writing because of it.
I am not young. In fact, this ear I turn 40. Gasp! I will admit that a lot of my interests exemplify my inability to grow up.
Now we have NA, which has been around forever, but it’s now creating chaos in the writing world. People speculate that authors are writing NA stories just to get published. Booksellers don’t know where to place these books on their shelves. Parents and others are upset because of the amount of sex in these books.
I am here to say that NA is here to stay.
Gayle Forman, a fantastic author, has recently released Just One Day—an NA novel. Gayle is a well-known author has published multiple novels. She does not need to write NA to make herself a household name (see my previous review of Just One Day).
NA is a category NOT created just to give authors an excuse to write about sex. In fact, these stories are meant for 18-24 year olds who have left high school and are moving on to become adults. Let’s be real, sex is something natural and begins happening in the teen years. It is just not realistic to think that each kid waits until they fall in love and get married to have sex. Because of the stigma, some authors feel very comfortable writing explicit sex scenes, and some don’t believe in writing about sex at all. But the reality is that it happens.
The point I am really trying to get at—although badly—is that everyone has a choice as to what they read. Writers write the stories that float around in their brains, while readers choose stories that make them feel that they are not alone. Personally, I LOVED Gayle Forman’s latest story. Loved her NA story so much that I have ordered Easy by Tamara Webber which is also NA!
I will read a good story, it doesn’t matter what category the book falls into. Booksellers–get with the times and create an NA shelf. Those of us who know what this means will find those books and buy them!
For another take on the same subject, see: Today News article: “Sex and the ‘new adult’ novel: Teen fiction gets steamier.”