Characteristics of young adult fiction (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Publishers identified several characteristics of successful young adult fiction. First, protagonists were almost always young, and often through first-person narratives, their point of view prevailed. Second, plots dealt with adolescent dilemmas, such as Should one accept family expectations or fulfill personal goals? Was it better to “fit in” with high school cliques or assert one’s individuality? and, Should employment, further schooling, or marriage be the choice for one’s future beyond high school? Disappointment in love and friendship was another common theme. Third, problems were usually optimistically resolved by the end of a book. Fourth, stylistic experimentation was rare, even though many fine literary craftspeople were beginning to write works of young adult fiction.
With compulsory education extending through high school, publishers came to recognize the existence of a vast audience of those euphemistically referred to as “reluctant readers.” Even though teachers and librarians promoted quality literature, many gradually concluded that any reading was preferable to none at all. This opened library shelves to books previously regarded as subliterary, including many formula Westerns, romances, and the previously scorned series books.
(The entire section is 181 words.)
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