BEA trendspotting: YA Crossovers
Last year around this time, I spent a lot of timing sighing over my Twitter feed as authors, librarians, and publishing types that I follow and admire tweeted excitedly about BEA. After three days of keeping tabs on publishing’s biggest weekend, I resolved to go in 2013, and with a little luck and a couple of vacation days, I was able to make it happen. I spent most of Thursday and Friday roaming the massive exhibits hall, going to panels, meeting authors, and picking up ARCs that I’m excited to share with the teen readers at my library. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, just for things that piqued my interest: new titles from authors that I or readers at my library love, plots that sounded fresh, covers that drew me in. I wasn’t planning to look for trends, but I noticed one anyway: crossover titles.
Crossovers straddle the line between YA and what’s traditionally thought of as adult fiction. Books in this category are sometimes referred to as “new adult.” I’m not a fan of that term because I think it’s exclusive; to me it implies young adult books are for people aged 12-18, “new adult” books are for people aged 18-30, and, I guess, adult literature is only for people aged 30+. “Crossover” feels more inclusive, like saying “here’s a book that will appeal to teenage readers and people in their 20s and 30s and beyond.” Crossovers often have protagonists who are a little older than the typical YA novel or who are dealing with more adult issues. Other times, the writing style, plotting, or other literary elements help create all-ages appeal. I spotted lots of crossovers at BEA; here are the five most buzzed about:
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Fariszan
Sahar and Nasrin: two young women in love in Iran, where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death. When Nasrin is engaged to be married, Sahar becomes desperate to keep Nasrin, and discovers a strange loophole in Iranian law: although homosexuality is a crime, sex re-assignment surgery for transgendered people not only legal — it’s paid for by the state. Sahar has never felt uncomfortable in her body, but the surgery would allow her to be with Nasrin, legally and openly. This novel grapples with complex cultural issues, which often appeal across ages, and features characters dealing with adult decisions. If You Could Be Mine was featured at the YA Buzz Panel.
The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
I didn’t manage to snag a copy of The Waking Dark, but it’s definitely going on my to-read list. This dark, epic horror novel (compared more than once over the weekend to Stephen King) features teenage protagonists but was mentioned at the Librarian Shout and Share as a story that will appeal to horror fans of all ages. In a small Kansas town, twelve people are murdered in a single day, and then the murderers turn the weapons on themselves. Among the survivors are five teenagers, struggling to understand the madness that’s taking over their town, hoping to figure out how to stop it before Oleander, KS is destroyed forever.
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
A companion to last year’s Printz Honor winner Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire features a protagonist in her late teens, and while the novel has coming-of-age elements, it’s not only a coming-of-age story. For example, marriage is a small but important motif in the novel, one of several elements which make it feel older than many YA novels. Code Name Verity has been popular with adults and teens at the library where I work, and I think Rose Under Fire will do equally well.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Another novel featuring a just-beyond-YA protagonist, Fangirl is the story of Cath, a shy college freshman whose twin sister Wren has delivered the crushing news that she doesn’t want to be Cath’s roommate. Cath is barely noticed on campus, but online, she’s famous as the number one fan of Simon Snow — her fan fiction gets thousands and thousands of hits. A college-age protagonist and a contemporary plot about the ups and downs of fandom should appeal across a broad age range. Fangirl was featured at the YA Buzz Event and mentioned more than once at a Librarian Shout and Share panel, which wasn’t YA-focused.
Help for the Haunted by John Searles
Like Fangirl, Help for the Haunted is being published under an adult imprint. It was mentioned, I think, by all four of the librarians on the Shout and Share panel. Part ghost story, part mystery, Help for the Haunted is the story of Sylvie Mason. When Sylvie’s parents pack her into the car after answering a late night phone call, she’s not surprised: the phone calls and mysterious trips are common. But this night is different; they go into a dark church, leaving Sylvie in the car — and they never come back. A year later, Sylvie is dealing with their deaths and the consequences of their life’s work helping haunted souls. A creepy coming-of-age story that should appeal to more mature YA readers too.
— Emily Calkins, currently reading Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein