This week for my YA/NA independent study project, I read Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic. I picked this book for a few reasons; first, since it was published in 2001, it predates the term “New Adult” by eight years, and I wanted to see if the genre had already begun to be explored before there was a label for it; second, I recently saw someone online make the statement that NA is just the new name for Chick Lit, so I picked a quintessential Chick Lit title to explore this idea; and third, I remember reading this when I was in college, and I wanted to turn a critical lens on the story.
The novel is about Becky, a struggling twenty-something who works as a financial journalist in London. Despite her income (and mounting debt), Becky’s got a shopping problem; she can justify any purchase, no matter how outlandish, and the only way she’s handling her debt is by dodging phone calls from her bank. Plus, there’s an arrogant, wealthy guy, Luke Brandon, circling around at the periphery of her career, antagonizing her and looking too darn hot for words. Through a series of unlikely events, Becky somehow manages to triumph, and to (maybe) even develop a more mature relationship with money.
Is it NA?
Nope. Not even a little bit. Becky’s age (just two years post college) isn’t really important to the story; she could be any age and the book would still work. It’s not really a story of “what do I do now in the adult world”; it’s a story of “what shoes do I buy next?” The novel follows the familiar format of a charming heroine bouncing through impossible disasters, quirky solutions, and an unexpected love interest, landing it squarely in the Chick Lit genre with titles like Bridget Jones’ Diary. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good Chick Lit story (or Rom Com novel or film), but it’s pretty clear that New Adult is not simply a new label for Chick Lit.
What about you? Have you read any of the Shopaholic books? What did you think?