What is YA to you?

Until recently I’d thought the definition of young adult was a pretty cut and dried topic, but it seems that’s no longer the case. While browsing through the Amazon charts I’ve seen books I’d call new adult in YA categories. I’ve also even seen books I’d label adult there. And there seem to be YA books in non-ya categories. What crazy world is this? Have the rules changed while I wasn’t looking or are authors / publishers ignoring them? I have no idea! But as a mother of an almost-teen, I find this a little concerning and think I need to get my head around it.

So …


I’ve always thought it was a combination of the following;

  • age of main character
  • life stage (ie some kind of parental figures present)
  • education stage (high school vs college)
  • issues and themes of the story
  • heat level (if there is sex, how much is shown)

A friend recently put this question to a group of readers and got really varied responses. So now I’m asking, how do you define YA? Is it the protagonist’s age, their life stage, the themes covered in the book, or even the heat level, or amount of swearing? Or maybe it’s something else entirely. Let’s talk about this!


Stacey Nash (3)Stacey Nash thinks she is a writer of young adult fiction. To find out more about the books she has penned find her at www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter or facebook.


  1. I agree with your criteria Stacey!. The issues is a blurry one, because some YA can deal with quite dark or confronting matters. However, it’s how they are dealt with. Then there is the starnge beast called crossover! I think sometimes YA can act as a cage for books that have wider potential. But NA and adult definitely don’t belong on the YA shelf.

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sasha. There seems to be a lot of cross over with issues / topics dealt with in new adult and young adult. I’ve seen new adult that is light and fluffy and young adult that is dark and gritty, so it’s not always about the issues. Perhaps the dividing line is in the other factors and how they contribute into the story as well. 🙂



  2. My novel is caught in between YA and NA. My characters are 18 and 21—post high school (NA). But, it is a sweet romance/time travel written for teens to be able to read (YA).

    New Adult sometimes has a bad reputation….some people assume if a novel is labeled NA automatically it is full of sex, drugs, and drinking—-all of which may be topics of a NA novel, but they are not necessarily in every NA book.

    My three children are 18, 17 and 15 and as a parent, there are YA and NA novels that I would consider censoring. There are also lots of NA books my kids enjoy and I approve. Readers need to keep an open mind to all books and not make assumptions according to genre.

    Great topic. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Thanks for commenting, Anne. I’m glad I’m not the only parent who considers censoring. My miss 11 loves YA, but there are some books in the YA category that are full of the sex, drugs, and drinking that you mentioned and as such, just aren’t appropriate for her. Yet, on the other end of the scale I think open mindness is important too, or we’d miss out on some great books.



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