Not Suitable for Adults

Judging by the age of people coming to our Everett Reads programs, it is clear that the appeal of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is not confined to one age group. This was especially evident when the author spoke at the Performing Arts Center on Feb. 4. People of all ages were laughing, talking and engaging with the author on that night.

Why then, you might ask, is the book almost universally given the label “young adult” in reviews, by the publishing industry, and even where it is located on most library shelves? The fact is that Absolutely True lies in the ever growing grey area of, for lack of a better term, crossover books.

The idea of a book that appeals to both adults and young adults isn’t new. If you go back to ancient times, i.e. when I was in high school, you might remember titles like The Illustrated Man, The Chocolate War, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and Brave New World as works that were defined as both adult and young adult friendly. Heck even Catcher in the Rye, the quintessential coming of age novel, is still cataloged in both adult and young adult here at the library.

The trend has only gotten stronger as the years have passed. Whole series of books, the Twilight Saga, the Inheritance Cycle, the Hunger Games, clearly appeal to both age groups. Interestingly, young adult books are one of the few profit-making areas for publishers these days and adult sales are driving this profitability. It appears that many adults have gotten over the stigma of reading a young adult novel.

So let’s just come out and admit it, adults read young adult books. So feel free to enjoy The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian with no guilt. You can even enjoy the cartoons. Go ahead and browse the well stocked Young Adult section at Everett Public. And by all means feel no shame in asking an “adult” librarian for help with selections that might stray into the forbidden YA area.

Chances are that librarian has a favorite, but rarely admitted to, liking for something that is sometimes labeled not suitable for adults. The Walking Dead is a pretty cool series after all…


1 thought on “Not Suitable for Adults

  1. Great suggestion. A whole world of fine reading for grown-ups exists in the YA section of the library. Consider several English writers, as well: Jill Paton Walsh’s Golden Grove and Unleaving; Alan Garner’s Red Shift; the Dickens-like flavor of Leon Garfield. Do you think, however, that a slight hint of “forbidden fruit” would only add to the pleasure?


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