Young Adult novels have been around for centuries, but the classification is a new one. SE Hinton was the first one to write a novel designated as young adult. That novel is The Outsiders.
Other novels have been written as young adult novels even though they weren’t classified that at the time. Among them are Little Women, Swiss Family Robinson, Call of the Wild, Little House on the Prairie, The Chronicles of Narnia, and others.
There is a difference of opinion as to what constitutes a young adult novel. Strict interpretations say that the main characters are in their early twenties or younger. But some have stated that a true young adult novel is a novel that appeals to teenagers and those in their young twenties, no matter what the age of the characters.
In Christian markets, young adult novels have had a very loose interpretation. Many times, any novel with action, science fiction elements, and historical novels without romance will be classified in this category. One fault some Christian young adult novels have is being preachy and moralistic. But an author with a true understanding of this genre won’t just throw out main characters in their teen years learning a moral lesson, but will cover themes that resonate with teens and young adults such as dealing with growing up, peer pressure, and fear of failure.
The young adult genre has been broken into three categories although the first catagory could easily fit in the children’s section. Middle grade is for children ten to thirteen. Teen fiction is for youth under the age of eighteen, young adult would be sixteen through twenty-five. Teen and young adult genres tend to blend. Most teen and young adult fiction is around 75,000 words although there are variations in length.
Christian agents and publishers used to shy away from Young Adult novels, but now many are looking for novels in this category. Young Adult’s sales figures have been consistently growing in Christian and secular markets. One major reason for this is because of the homeschool market. Parents of homeschoolers are constantly looking for good Christian fiction that will appeal to their junior high, high school, and young adult children.
While other catagories of Christian fiction tend to stay close to the romance genre, Christian Young Adult fiction has broken into many catagories such speculative, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, suspense, adventure, and historical non-romance. It will be interesting to see how Christian Young Adult evolves in the next few years.