Abstract: Who is Young Adult? The Ever-Expanding Genre

Within the past twenty years alone, the Young Adult book market has experienced revolutionary success, garnering movie deals, media attention, and readership like never before. Yet antithetical to its massive worldwide audience is the market’s name, which appears to cater only to a limited few. The term “Young Adult” far from encompasses the range of readers that support this genre, the majority of whom are over the age of eighteen. Additionally, the phrase is ambiguous at best when used to describe the characters and subject matters the market contains, which blur indistinguishably at each end with those that exist on its borders—Middle Grade and General Fiction. For these reasons, the Young Adult market exists in a paradox of definition, where those who are its biggest supporters do not necessarily belong to the demographic it targets. Because of these ambiguities the questions then arise: what is a Young Adult book, and who is a Young Adult reader? With my research, I intend to create a definition for the market that incorporates its diverse range of readership and content. Along the way, I will discern the essential characteristics of the genre and derive the qualities that make a seemingly limited market into an age-defying phenomenon.