re: Is the “Upper” Part of “Upper YA” Moving Up?

in Teen/Middle Grade Fiction by

Dear Editor…

Are novels with protagonists who are in their late teens and early twenties also considered YA? Lauren Conrad’s new YA series has characters who are 19. How old can a heroine/hero be in a YA novel? Please clarify! Thanks!

Sincerely,

Mayra

Dear Mayra…

Traditionally, no. But what does tradition have to do with reality TV? Lauren Conrad was a high school senior when she starred in her first reality show, Laguna, and at 20 years old she started filming the spin-off The Hills. It makes sense that her “semi-autobiographical” multi-book deal would be aimed at the upper YA audience with the crossover adult market also firmly in those sights. In the first book, L.A. Candy, the protagonist is already nineteen years old and out of high school. This isn’t an anomaly, by any means. Publishers are venturing into the upper teen/early twenties demographic that falls in the gap between YA’s traditional age-18 cut-off and books for adults. Conrad already has that audience covered with her TV platform, so she’s a natural fit for this stretching of the YA boundaries.

Happy writing!

The Editor

5 Comments

    • I’m inclined to think that would be shelved with adult fiction, not YA. Although it would depend on what the theme and focus are. Are both characters REALLY equal? Or is one a foil for the other, illuminating the true main character’s growth? If the 45-year-old serves that role for the 18-year-old, then you might have an upper YA story on your hands.

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