So . . . is your novel in the Young Adult category?

Is Tardy Son a Young Adult novel? This was asked my by another writer, Kimberly Elkins, after I told her about my novel. I had written most of it already and was on a final rewrite. I never did intend it that way, so I finished it with the same intention, but then took this test she gave me:

Test for “Tardy Son”:

Young adult literature has certain unique features which set it apart. Books for teens are often written in the first person and usually have:
• a teenage protagonist [ YES ]
• adult characters as marginal and barely visible characters [ NO ]
• a brief time span (the story spans a few weeks, yes, a summer, maybe, a year, no) [ YES ]
• a limited number of characters [ NO ]
• a universal and familiar setting [ NO ]
• current teenage language, expressions, and slang [ NO, HISTORICALLY SET IN 1958 ]
• detailed descriptions of other teenagers’ appearances, mannerisms, and dress [ NO ]
• a positive resolution to the crisis at hand (though it may be subtle and never in-your-face moralistic) [ NO ]
• few, if any, subplots [ NO ]
• about 125-250 pages in length (although many of the newer YA books are much longer) [ YES, 225 ]
• a focus on the experiences and growth of just one main character [ MAINLY, BUT NO ]
• a main character whose choices and actions and concerns drive the story (as opposed to outside forces) [ MAINLY, BUT NO ]
• problems specific to adolescents and their crossing the threshold between childhood and adulthood [ MAINLY BUT, YES ]

YES, YA = 4
NO, YA = 9

Is the writing good? THAT MATTERS.

2 Comments to “So . . . is your novel in the Young Adult category?”

  1. Now you have me thinking about my YA novel that I am sending queries to agents.

    Is it still YA if the kids grows older, but never up?

    I don’t plan to grow up, ever! Talk about boring.

    Great test, though. I really like the last comments at the end about what matters most is good writing.


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