Question of the Day–Are the Books YA or Adult? Or Both?

Recently, Malinda Lo posted on Twitter and Instagram that her most recent book, Last Night at the Telegraph Club has been published in the U.S. and marketed as YA, but in the U.K. it was marketed as Adult. Among other comments, she wrote, “What does this mean!? The book is the same everywhere! It just means it has crossover appeal for teens and adults.” While I was reading her book last month, I was thinking about how the book would totally work for adult readers–even those who don’t typically read YA. It made me think a bit about what specific things ultimately get the books labeled YA or Adult.

Obviously, many young adults choose to read books that were written with adults in mind and many adults choose to read books marketed to young adults. Beyond situations where readers make those deliberate choices, some stories seem like they could easily have a place on the shelves in both sections of the library or bookstore. This is in part why the American Library Association has the Alex Awards. They explain that each year, “the Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.”

I was recently reading A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia for a virtual discussion hosted by Ms. Edith Campbell and Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen. The book is being marketed as YA for readers ages 16 and up. While I was reading, as with Malinda Lo’s book, I kept thinking that it could easily have a place in the adult section of the library.

I don’t think there’s an award for YA books that have crossover appeal for adults, but maybe there should be. Here are a few YA books I believe could also be marketed to adults–even to those people who would not usually venture into the teen or young adult realm of books.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery by M. Evelina Galang

Apple Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend by Erika T. Wurth

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Like a Love Story by Abdi Naazemian

Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang

A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Do you have other YA books in mind that have crossover appeal for adults? Do you have thoughts about what makes a book YA or Adult? Please share in the comments or on Twitter.