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I’m plugging away at my independent study reading list, and last week, I left YA behind as I started into my NA titles. I just realized that I flipped my schedule a bit, reading the sampler last week instead of saving it for December, but I blame jury duty and having my Kindle along in my purse.

I selected the Between the Covers sampler because of the number of different NA titles and authors is included; there are thirteen samples from six different authors, and I figured they would provide a nice overview of the NA genre during this project.

It’s hard to give any kind of clear run down of the story, since the thirteen works are fairly diverse, but I can note some themes and trends I noticed.

Out of 13 titles, two were speculative (one paranormal and one dystopian), and eleven were contemporary. Four were told in multiple POVs, and nine were single voiced. All the single voiced titles centered around female protagonists, while the dual narratives included both male and female narrators. There was a romance element to all but one of the contemporary titles, ranging from virgins who wanted to get laid, complicated breakups, and secret crushes. The contemporary title that wasn’t romantic actually seemed like it might be, but then shifted into a dark story of sexual assault. Family troubles/rebellion was a common theme throughout the samples, although each character expressed his or her rebellion in different ways. Most of the guys were tattooed “bad boys”, and parties and bars figured in heavily as settings. Characters ranged in age from seventeen to mid twenties, (college or post college for all but the two speculative titles), and the theme of inventing a new self and starting over ran strong throughout.

What Makes These Excerpts NA?

Before I started this independent study, I took the time as both a reader and a writer to come up with a simple explanation of the differences between YA and NA: YA is about “who am I?”, while NA is about “what now?”

Each of these stories certainly focuses on the “what now?” aspect of life before, during, and after college (although from the sample, it’s hard to see if the speculative titles will fit in with that theme, since those characters aren’t college aged). Romance figures heavily in NA, but it’s not the only characteristic of the genre, and it was gratifying to see the authors in the sample exploring other issues of New Adulthood, including finances, family problems, and career ambitions. For some of the characters, it seems like the question of “what now?” is still tied to questions of identity, particularly in cases where adolescent trauma had prevented the characters from fulling realizing who they were before leaving home.

Just from a glance at these thirteen titles, it’s exciting to see that New Adult is already moving beyond the confines of contemporary college-aged romance, and my expectations for the rest of the books I’m reading during this independent study are high.

There’s more to your twenties than getting laid for the first time, and it’s gratifying to see authors exploring this volatile, diverse age group within this emerging genre.

What about you? Have you read this sampler? Which stories stood out to you?