Let’s talk about genre for a bit.
On one hand, it’s very useful, particularly for those folk that like a very specific type of book and want to find more of the same. On the other hand, it can stop us from discovering something new, something amazing.
Readers can miss some brilliant books because they are pitched as crime or horror and ‘those books aren’t for me’.
No other genre suffers from this more than that of ‘Young Adult’. While the sort of books that get grouped in YA are not particularly new – the genre itself has only been a popular thing for the last ten years or so, since the arrival of Katniss Everdeen and Bella and Edward.
They are books about people in their later teenage years, discovering love, drugs, sex, essentially life for the first time. They are not necessarily written by young adults, but they are marketed at them.
The genre itself is split up into all sorts of other mini-genres – YA Dystopian, YA Romance, etc – so even though you might like YA, it doesn’t really say much about your reading type.
There isn’t an ‘Old Adult’ genre – books about old age pensioners that are put into a category specifically for them that says ‘Hey everyone else, don’t read these!’
Why am I getting on my soap-box about this?
Because I’ve just finished reading Clean by Juno Dawson. It’s a Young Adult novel about socialite Lexi Volkov who ends up in rehab following a near overdose.
Lexi has to deal with her feelings about her current enabling boyfriend, secrets from the past and new friendships with the other residents of the Clarity Centre, all of whom have their own different demons.
What makes this a Young Adult novel? Lexi is barely out of school, drinking illegally. The other characters are all a similar age – young people troubled with addiction.
It’s BETTER than a lot of other ‘Middle-Aged Adult’ fiction that deals with rehab, and frankly, though we’re told the ages of the character, they could be ANY age.
Dawson deals with the complexities of rehab with skill, making it seem very real and believable. In other hands Lexi Volkov (Heir to a Russian oligarch) could have been unlikable, but she’s humanised and brought into the real world, made relatable by her very ordinary and common problems.
This is a book aimed at Young Adults, and they will love it – but if you’re not young, if you’re an old-adult, then don’t think this is not for you. It’s for everyone.
Clean by Juno Dawson is available now from Quercus