Let’s Talk About: What is New Adult?!

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Hello peeps. I haven’t done a discussion post in a while, since last year actually, but this past month me and  Cátia @The Girl Who Read Too were discussing some of the books we were reading and debating whether or not they fell on the New Adult category. This, of course, if because we’re doing the 2017 New Adult Reading Challenge, created by Cátia herself. This is not going to be long…


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If you type in “What is New Adult” on google, this is what shows up:

New adult (NA) fiction, also rendered as newadult fiction, is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–30 age bracket. …New adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices.

But if you keep looking, you will find some other definitions that fit the category, such as:

New Adult books focus on the period in life where you are becoming a proper adult. The characters are usually between about 18 – 25 and are generally either at college or starting their first job. The category fits in between YA and Adult books. It has a similar coming of age feel as YA books but rather than people experiencing their first kisses the content and issues used are more mature such as first serious relationships and heartbreak. (Link)

These are not exactly different, but they make it sometimes hard to properly define a book as NA. Why? Mostly the age bracket.

There is no doubt that New Adult books are usually set at a time that a person is going through the transition into adulthood, and sometimes that involves getting into college, figuring out what to do if you don’t want to go to college, figuring out life after college or after something major shifts in your life. Leaving home, big changes, first job… those are no brainers. A book set in college are the easiest to determine whether they belong in NA or not, because they are the DEFINITION of NA.


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But some books are harder. I remember that the first time I read Wallbanger I thought it was NA, because the characters are young and it has such a light funny vibe to it, that I easily associate with the genre. But then someone pointed out that Both Caroline and Simon have fixed and stable jobs, are both at their own houses, and are for all intents and purposes, ADULTS. So yeah, this whole categorizing books is not easy.

On another hand, me and Cátia recently read Good Boy and were left wondering if this would be considered New Adult or not. Both characters are over 25, but Jess is starting grad school and it at a really hard limbo in her life, but both characters have been “adults” for a while. It does deal with themes of growing up and finding her own path, but in the end, Cátia decided that this book was NA to her, while I classified it as just a Romance.

I think that ultimately the most confusing thing about this whole discussion is the age. Some people define the genre from 18 to 25, while others extend it to 30. And honestly, nowadays, when we are finding our paths later and later in life, I think it’s possible to have a NA book where the main characters are over 25.

Another issue is that a lot of people think that New Adult books ALWAYS include explicit sex and/or profanities. No guys, NO! There’s NA that doesn’t have sex at all. There’s extremely mild NA. I’ve read YA books spicier than some NA books I’ve read.

Then you have the opposite, and books that deal with all the issues mentioned above are classified as Young Adult. Remind you of anything? Yeah… Fangirl… that book should be put firmly in the New Adult category.


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I try to follow the definitions set above. I’m just not very strict about the whole age interval thing. So, here are some things that a book has to have for me to classify it as New Adult:

  • one or both characters, under the age of 30:
    • going through some life changing event;
    • starting, being or finishing college;
    • finding themselves;
    • looking or starting a new path in life;
    • anything that i think makes up the life of a brand new adult person!

There are some other things that I expect to find in my beloved NA romances, such as lots of sex, but again, that is not mandatory or a given. I do think it’s a normal time of one’s life to think, discuss it and experiment with it.

If both of the main characters have a defined place in life and are not dealing with any major thing, I usually don’t classify it as NA, even if they are young enough to be put on that category.


This was just for me to clarify how I look at New Adult and what I see as it. But I know that a lot of people have several different definitions of what constituted this category. And I want to know them!

Also, is there any book that has been classified as New Adult and you don’t agree with?
Or any that is not in the category and you think it should be?
How do you define NA?

Hit my comments and answer these questions, I’m curious!