Let’s Talk About: What I’d Love to See in NA Fiction

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When most of us think of New Adult fiction, it oftentimes means Young Adult fiction + sex. I mean, sex isn’t a bad thing. Sex in novels can be great, especially if it is a means to explore and examine individuality, sexuality, and self-growth. (And, you know, because they’re fun to read.) But what about everything else that happens in that uncertain age? Though your teenage years are important, formative, and certainly tumultuous, your years between 18 and 30 years old are just as transformative, uncertain, and filled with obstacles. Where are these books? (Am I looking in the wrong place?)

In today’s Let’s Talk About, I list the things I’d love to see more of in NA fiction. Most of the items in the list will be strongly based on personal experience and my own observations, but if you have any ideas of your own, don’t forget to share in the comments! 

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BRIEF NOTE: ON NA

NA fiction, or New Adult fiction, is a genre that is still quite new to me – and the reading world for that matter; ‘New Adult’ was first coined in 2009. Wikipedia tells me that New Adult ‘tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices‘, and will have protagonists aged between 18 – 30 years old. I like the idea of NA fiction very much. As someone who is still within the New Adult age bracket, I would love to read books that illuminate the upcoming trials I will face now or later in my life.

There are so many books about teenagers and their trials, and also many books about adults who experience their midlife crisis (and thus need to find themselves). I would love to see books that explore what happens in between; the first time the world expands into something unrecognizable and feels like a black hole, those years of transition from youth to being an adult.

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I’D LOVE TO SEE: LIFE/CAREER UNCERTAINTIES

There is this implicit idea that strong characters have their careers and lives planned out. And whilst I do not necessarily disagree with this, what about the people who don’t know what they want to do in their life? Who haven’t discovered what it is yet? What about their stories?

Real talk: Sometimes life doesn’t always go the way people imagine. They may have these dreams, goals, and ambitions, but what I feel is not talked about enough are the times when they feel lost in their life. Sometimes people get ‘stuck’ in their lives for a multitude of reasons — when a temporary job becomes six years, when waiting for an opportunity becomes years of waiting, when work and life leaves them too exhausted to seek new things, or when people lose their jobs. Or maybe even finishing a university/college degree and not knowing what to do thereafter.

In a society where having a career is important, it is a struggle when you’re in a place you do not want to be. Whilst the path may always seem simple and ‘perseverance’ may seem like the best solution (and it is), they are often complicated by a multitude of factors, such as monetary pressures or lack of opportunities. More so, it’s true: time passes differently for adults than it does for younger people. Regardless of what you think people ought to do or whether people ultimately reach that destination (or do not; people, namely parents, sometimes sacrifice their dreams for their children), the time you spend uncertain and lost can be a very emotional and difficult time. The struggles are multifaceted; they come from the alienation from work, pressures from other people and society, or dissatisfaction of one’s life at that moment of time, especially if one’s career is closely tied to their identity.

Though it is something that is not often talked about – probably because it is unpleasant and disconcerting to talk about – it is something that is prevalent. I would love to see books that explore this struggle.

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I’D LOVE TO SEE: CHANGES IN FRIENDSHIPS

Growing up and becoming your own person can be a difficult but rewarding experience, but sometimes people grow apart. Are there people, potentially characters, who feel this deeply about these relationship changes? What is the impact of these changes on an individual and how they perceive relationships?

(Also, welcome to the age of networking – ‘symbiotic’ relationships but also typically quick relationships that have no essence but require time and emotional investment.)

I believe forming friendships when you’re in high school or university is one of the most exciting parts of your life. Being in an institution where you are surrounded by different people, some just as eager to form friendships as you, provided endless opportunities to meet new people and learn from them. But, two things can happen: a) whilst some friendships may endure, a majority of people you meet in school/university will be people you will hardly ever talk to again, and b) you will eventually take on responsibilities which create time pressures, making it difficult for you to maintain friendships.

Adult responsibilities, less time, moving away, career changes and significant life choices are several reasons why relationships may change. Though this is an accepted part of life and growing up, a loss of a friendship can be bittersweet, heartbreaking, or even devastating.

But as well as the bittersweet things, I also want to read more about friendships that come out or develop during adulthood; I want to see the intimacy of friendships, the importance of them in the face of life’s challenges. I want to see friends support each other in times of great transition and change. Friendships and how we maintain them change when we get older – and I’d love to see this explored more.

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I’D LOVE MORE: MORE AND MORE SELF-GROWTH

I think there is an assumption that people find themselves after college, when they have found work, develop lasting relationships, or have security. But, I believe that self-growth doesn’t stop at any age. People and minds are fluid and always changing. Entering adulthood can be a tumultuous time; learning how to live by yourself, learning how to balance work, family, friendship and leisure, learning to do ‘adult’ things; in the meantime, learning about yourself in a time of change and about the world that has suddenly become so much bigger. (Oh, and throw in the dating game and romances that we were never taught how to navigate.)

Dreams change, goals change, everything in life changes. Who we thought we would become in your teenage years may be very different to who you are in adulthood. But, that isn’t a tragedy. Self-growth is a process of discovery, understanding, and patience. It can be a development, rejection, or adoption of new values, ideas, or parts that are important to someone’s identity. It may involve a deeper understanding of things, deeper than what is first formed at a young age. More importantly, the reality is that sometimes people still do not know who they are when they are an adult, or at least are still unsure.

I would love to see characters that face adult-related challenges. I would love to see them grow and develop after overcoming those challenges. I would love to see self-growth that never stops, and to be shown that it is okay to have not figured your life out at twenty-five years old, to still be learning more about yourself and the world in adulthood.

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LET’S TALK ABOUT IT

Before ending this post, I want to end it on a more positive, assuring note: this post is not intended to imply that your years between 18 – 30 are predetermined to be lonely, sad, negative, etc. It’s an exciting time filled with opportunities, but they are certainly filled with struggles unlike anything you may have experienced. And of course, everyone experiences life differently, but I hope that fact will make the discussions more exciting and interesting!

  • What would you like to see portrayed in NA?
  • If you’re in the NA age bracket, what struggles/experiences would you like to see portrayed and explored?
  • If you’re not in the NA age bracket, what would you like to see portrayed to get a glimpse of what young adulthood may be like?
  • Do you think such books are necessary?

Let me know in the comments below! Thank you for reading!

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67 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About: What I’d Love to See in NA Fiction

  1. I love NA books as it offers more deeper story. I would like to see more diversity in NA, less romance ( a little romance isn’t bad, but there are times the romance takes everything over and the conflict has been left out) or slow burn romance will do and thought provoking topics. :)

    Great discussion CW! :)

    • I totally agree with you! I would also like to see more diversity in the story with NA. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with the romance in NA but I don’t like when the romance overshadows everything else in the plotline and it becomes the main focus leaving character growth, development and story arc on the sidelines. Personally, I prefer a slow burn romance anyway and would be happy to see that whilst the focus is on the storyline and the “issues/struggles”.

    • Thank you Bea!

      Completely agree; I’d love the same things, especially a slow burn romance — or maybe a character that is already in a stable relationship and romance/relationships is just a subplot and is more integral to the character rather than the plot. And yes, thought-provoking topics! Real life experiences that most 20somethings will have. I’d love to see a book like that.

  2. maybe i’m not looking around enough but i’d like to see NA expand out of the genre of contemporary and into fantasy, sci fi, historical, etc. i really would love to read a good high fantasy or sci fi about someone my age for once!

    • I never thought about this before but you’re so right Lila! I also haven’t looked around enough, but even in casual browsing, I have yet to see NA sci-fi/fantasy. I’d love to see that too.

    • Hi Lila, you make such an fantastic point! I’d love to see some crossover too. Even though I wasn’t fond of ACOTAR, I liked the NA + fantasy blend. It was awesome.

      I’d definitely love to see NA + Science-fiction too! That’d interest me a lot, particularly in our technological society. I’m a little sick of 16 year olds saving the world – why can’t they be in their 20-somethings? XD

  3. Really interesting post! I’d never thought about it before but once you said – yes there aren’t many books about that 18-30 age bracket. And if they are, they do tend to be romance. Or quite a lot in historic fiction

    • Hi Lizzy, thank you!
      That’s right – I noticed this when I was trying to find a good NA to read, so I looked up New Adult on Goodreads — and all the search yielded were a bunch of books with half-naked men or romances. Not that there’s anything wrong with those! I suppose I just crave more.

  4. Such a great topic! I used to love reading New Adult, but when they start being like the same book, I stopped reading them. I want New Adult books to be more than just the romance, because let’s all be honest, life isn’t all about romance. There are a lot of things people between the ages or 18-30 do; they don’t just sleep around with people all the time. They have to work. They have families to take care of. They have friends. Wtf are all these New Adult writers doing by focusing all their efforts in making a romance book that all seem the same. Like you, I would like to see more character development more than anything in these books, something most of us would be able to relate to.

    • Hi Aria, thank you!

      You make such a good point about NA books being very similar. Like, they have different details but the outcome is always the same! I never thought about that, that’s so true!

      I agree completely; life certainly isn’t all about romance. There are so many more pressing things to talk about, and I feel like they’re skimmed over in NA. And most NA fictions have characters that have comfortable lives, so there’s hardly any characters that are struggling financially, which I think a lot of people can relate to. :\

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I wish I talked to you before writing this because now I’ve realized that I have missed out on some things – but thank you all the same!

  5. 100% with you on how I’d love to see more career/life uncertainty and also changing friendships/relationships. I’m at that age right now where these two things are such big, BIG parts of my life and it would be good to read something about it that’s not non-fiction, you know? The older I get, the less I have figured out and sometimes it’s just a mess. :P

    • I completely relate, Reg. It’s a big part of my life too, and I thought I was weird for feeling this way because I thought no one else went through it. It wasn’t until I read up on other people’s blogs or when I talked to people did I realize that it was more prevalent. And I think that’s sad. :c

      Haha I feel the same! But we’ll both figure it out and make it; I know we will!

  6. Wow, this post was absolutely on point CW! One book that came to mind when you talked about finding out what you want in life and starting a career was Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour. That is set when the MC has graduated uni and is pursuing what she wants in life. I totally know what you mean about friends drifting and then being acquaintances and then getting sucked up in life’s responsibilities that you barely have a social life anymore. I feel like that’s something we can all relate to.

    • Thank you Jeann! I had a look at Everything Leads to You and it sounds gorgeous. You and Jenna liked it so!! I MUST READ IT! :’D

      I’m glad you can relate. It’s such a lonely, weird feeling. It’s like life exists in a vacuum when you work and when adult responsibilities set in. :I

  7. You’re so on pointe with this CW! I find it difficult to read NA now because I want more from the story. I want NA books to bring to light all the things you’ve talked about. I also want NA books to talk about dealing with mental illness because those issues don’t just stop when we leave YA.

    All the same issues we see and read in YA, they should be carried over into NA (for the most part, I’m sure there are some that simply cannot because of age but honestly I’m not thinking of any because everyone lives life at their own pace and there are no rules on when someone is supposed to have experienced something.)

    I want to see books about people that I can relate to. I turn to YA because I find more characters who think more like me, who are focused on larger issues in their life than just sex. Sex is awesome, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s not something that is the cornerstone of my life and it’s not something I want to be the focus of the book I’m reading.

    I read to go on a journey, to be told a story. Sex while on that journey is cool. Sex being the journey though is hard for me to understand and that’s why NA has become a genre I cannot connect to anymore.

    • Thanks Nicolette! c:

      I completely relate. I tried to find NA books that weren’t focused on sex, and it was such a mission. (So I opted for contemporary instead but it just wasn’t what I was looking for.) I definitely want to see more books that explore mental illness, especially in how it manifests in adults. As you mention, I think that’s why I read YA – to find characters that think like me, but it’s so exploratory in nature. I sort of want NA to be like that too, except maybe explore things that twenty somethings would experience.

      Agreed! I love a good romance but I want more than just romance too. Sex certainly isn’t the cornerstone of my life either, and I think that is with most people. Same goes with sex; I really want a book that has romance/sex as completely subplot or just a ‘part’ of a character’s life, rather than the focus of the story.

      I’m starting to become alienated from NA myself, and I really wish I didn’t because it’s the most tumultuous years of your life. (Not that I’ve lived the years thereafter but it certainly feels that way!) There’s so much potential.

      • I got into one series that was NA (I didn’t think about it until now) and it really was focused on the plot (sex happened but as a part of the characters life, and it actually didn’t happen I think until a few books in. Each book is a suuuuper quick read too. The Rylee Adamson Series, it’s a paranormal series, and I’d actually rec that one. http://www.shannonmayer.com/books/ )
        Anyway, back on topic, I’d just like to see characters that are around my age (25) dealing with the things that I deal with. I don’t think we’re asking for much. I don’t understand the fascination with sex being the main plot to NA books and because of that I’ve pretty much stopped reading them altogether (as in right now I don’t have a single NA book on my radar). I think NA authors need to step up their game. Or perhaps it’s just that the majority of NA readers like that. I don’t know. I just know that I don’t. There’s a lot of potential going to the sidelines right now in my opinion.

  8. You always write the most thoughtful, amazing posts. And I was talking about this the other day with another blogger, so…you’re totally on point, ahah. I would love to read about people struggling with “what to do with their lives”, because, if that question is sometimes there in YA, it’s much more important when you’re finishing your degree, getting into the real world, finding a job, and trying to cope with the difficulties of the real professionnal world.
    And I love what you said about friendships and growing apart. I think this really is missing these days, because it’s definitely something that I see happening a lot. It’s not pleasant, at all, but it’s part of life. Changes between friendships, growing apart, trying to keep in touch with friends while moving away and everything…all of that is so, so hard, but it’s something that should be explored and aknowledged in books. It would be true, helpful, and really great to read about that.
    And, like some YA books remind us that we are not alone, I think those books are necessary to remind us, a bit older, and even the younger getting scared about the future and just ANYONE, that those issues exist and can be talked about, and overcome.
    Great post! <3

    • Thank you for such kind words, Marie, as always!

      I’m really glad to hear that you understand where I am coming from, and I completely agree with everything you say.

      It IS hard, much harder than most people give credit. And I know there will be people who dive in headfirst and know what’s what, but not everyone is like that? And it really is a struggle, so much pressure (mostly from yourself, haha), and just a messy confusing time. The world is so big but you feel like you world is closing in on you.

      Thank you Marie; the friendship part was a bit more personal for me, since so many of my friends are leaving New Zealand to pursue their dreams and careers. I support them 100%, but I miss them a lot and its hard with timezones and work schedules. Blah! It is very hard. It can make you feel so alienated and lonely.

      It would be helpful, indeed. I look to books when I want to feel comforted and to be understood. (And maybe hope they may give me courage to carry on.)

      • Oh yes, it’s so hard, and you’re right, there’s a lot of pressure coming from ourselves, that’s crazy. I wish it would stop ahah.
        I can completely relate to the friendship thing, too, this happens to me and some of my old friends, too, and it’s just going to get more and more complicated, with distance, even if there are always phones and the internet to keep in touch…. I think it’s realizing that things aren’t ever going to be the same that’s the most overwhelming. And those feelings definitely inhabit a lot of people, but it’s not really awknowledged in books, and it should be. I would be interested to read about that!
        I have the same feelings about books, they’re here for comfort and everything, and I really hope that those kind of stories will come soon, someday, to bring us this comfort and hope that we are not alone in this :) And, in the meantime, well, you are not alone since I’m here! :D

  9. So much love for this discussion post! I love NA and romance and all that, but really wish there was more diversity and less happily ever afters. Personally for me, the transition from high school to college was pretty rough and I’ve only kept in touch with a few of friends. Life gets busy and people go through changes that also affect their relationships with those around them and I wish there were more characters who didn’t have long time BFFs with them when they started college. Also, these self-assured MCs who know where their going and what they want to do for the rest of their life…WHY can’t that be me because as a recent graduate I have no idea what I want to do with my life. Great discussion, CW!

    • Agreed Ari! To build on that, I wish the books wouldn’t have happily ever afters at all sometimes. I mean, I LOVE a deserved HEA, but life is always changing and there are so many challenges; they certainly don’t stop at the pinnacle of happiness.

      I’m sorry it was rough for you. I can completely understand that. For me, the hardest transition was from university to working. Now that all my friends have full-time work, we’re all too tired to catch up and weeks turn into months.

      I really liked that you pointed that out. I have never really related to the concept of BFF, because whilst I always had a handful of close friends, I wouldn’t ever label them as a BFF. And how about the fact that solid friendships can be really difficult to form in university? (Idk about you but my faculty was so massive it was literally new faces everyday.)

      I know how you feel, Ari! I graduated two years ago and still am trying to figure out what I want to do, or what my next steps will be (though I am beginning to figure it out!?). We’ll both get there though Ari. I have a good feeling. <3

  10. I don’t think of YA+Sex when I think of NA fiction. They’re two completely different age groups. I feel like NA has somewhat pigeonholed itself into the contemporary genre in being mostly college-ish tropes (but I guess people are okay with that?).

    The thing with “realism” in fiction is that most people just don’t care — as I’ve discovered in so many of my discussions LOL. A story that revolves around learning how to file taxes? How fun. It’d take that idea and shift it to look at all the steamy romance with your hot accountant instead, you dig?

    • Oh that’s interesting, how would you describe NA then, if not YA + sex?

      Ah Joey, you have missed my point. I do not think NA should centre on how to file taxes or mundane technical things that we all eventually learn. I’m more interested in the emotional experiences that come with those things. So rather than a book being about filing taxes per se, filing taxes is almost a rite of passage into adulthood, and I am interested in the emotional element about that.

      Then wouldn’t the steamy romance would just be a ‘romance’?

  11. Great piece. I feel the same way. I got all excited when NA emerged as its own genre a few years back, but the bulk of NA narratives do seem to be love stories. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good love story, but you’re right, it’s disappointing that the genre is so narrow, especially given how transformative/confusing/thrilling that stage of life is. Utter goldmine for writers.

    • Thank you! I’m pleased to hear that you can relate. I think of the NA/contemporaries that I have read, only a handful of them explored themes other than romance.

      It is a goldmine for writers! And I hope some seize the opportunity to explore the things we might feel too ashamed or scared to talk about.

  12. Most of the time when I see NA I see a lot of it being YA + sex like you said and that kind of turns me off of a lot of NA. It’s not bad, per se, but it’s definitely not my cup of tea. Though you’ve pretty much highlighted all of what I would love to see in NA. It’d bring me to the genre a lot more.

    • Hi Alex, and thank you!

      Agreed; the occasional book is fine, but they’re not something I would personally read a lot of.

      Haha, I wrote this in the hopes that someone will see it and write the book we all need and deserve! *fingers crossed*

  13. YES TO EVERYTHING YOU SAID.

    I am going to admit something now: When I first started blogging I had no idea what NA was. Additionally, I don’t think I’ve ever read an NA book. Most of the ones I am aware of are romance novels and even though there are times when I love that, it’s just not what I am into right now.

    I love everything that you said about self development. Right now, that feels like so much of what I’m doing. My opinions on things are changing all the time. I feel like I approach everything in my life now way more consciously than I ever used to. Particularly now I’ve started another retail job, I’m trying to find ways to not take customers being rude to me personally. It sounds kind of silly when I stay it out loud, but until recently it had never really occurred to me whatever happens to me, my reaction to it is actually in my control. Like, I can be separate from the thing that happened. I would love to see more of that in literature – characters addressing their flaws, and their emotional triggers. It feels like it’s all I do atm.

    The other thing I would really like to read about is how your relationship with your parents evolves. I don’t know about NA, but in YA there are certainly a lot of demonised parents and I find that boring to read. Relationships with parents are complicated, and as you get older you start to understand their actions and maybe even some of the things that you resent them for in a different way. Your limited perspective of what it means to be a parent expands. Like you said about how a lot of parents give up their own opportunities for the benefit of their children. I think that’s the sort of thing you don’t come to truly appreciate until you’re an adult. Even the things they did wrong you start to understand once you’ve made a few mistakes of your own.

    As is becoming obvious, I could talk about this all day. Thank you for another wonderful post :)

    • You make such a good point Lydia! I think in more recent years, I have had more time to reflect about myself and think deeply about things, and what I want in life. And I do think this awareness gives you a deeper sense of understanding of who you are or who you are becoming.

      It’s funny you mention that because I was reflecting on that the other day! When I first started my job, I took negative comments by clients to heart, and now I know it’s nothing personal. I completely understand the separation thing; that’s how I think about it too.

      YES YES YES to relationships with parents! I wish parents weren’t demonised because, unless they are outright abusive or bad, they are just like us, just further down their own development and life. And parents make mistakes too, even if it is very costly. My relationship with my parents has definitely changed; I have a deeper understanding of how they think, and I appreciate the small things they do so much more.

      I agree that you don’t appreciate things your parents do for you until you’re older, and that it definitely comes with age. When you’re young, you think a lot about yourself or the more exciting relationships in life, but I feel that as you get older, you start to see the relationships that matter and stay (no matter what), and for most that’s your parents?? Oh man, I get so sensitive when I talk about parents, lol. XD

      I think we should write an anthology about what it means to be a young adult. We shall affect millions. And make millions. XD

      • We so should! We know almost everything there is to know about (and complain about!) YA at this point.

        The not taking it personally thing is really hard! I am working on it though. I try and remember that everybody’s day is bigger than this one potentially weird moment they are having with me.

        • HAHA we do indeed! And why not change it too, right?!

          It IS hard, particularly when they’re like “YOU did blah blah” or “Why didn’t YOU blah blah”. That’s a good thing to tell yourself. I tell myself that people are probably already anxious and nervous calling me, particularly since I work with a lot of older people (as in, 70+). Or my interaction with them may be one of the two conversations they’ll have all day. So, I forgive them, or at least try and forget about it.

  14. I think I’ve fallen in love…with this post!!! I would definitely love to read more about career development and career uncertainty because I know a lot of college-aged people do have problems figuring out what they want to do after college myself included. I feel like in a lot of New Adult, the main character just randomly decides to do this one job with no hint of the person working towards it throughout the book. And I get so annoyed when NA characters do the “legally blonde” thing and just get into a program with doing no work..Like I just read a book about you making out with your bf this entire book. How did you find time to even apply??? Teach me your ways !! lol I agree with you on wanting to see more change in friendships especially friendship dynamics between high school friends and college friends because those definitely change. There is so much potential but not enough execution :/

    • Thank you Carolyn!!

      Yes, myself included too! I actually felt a little disillusioned after leaving university… I had all these GOALS and DREAMS and stuff, and then I came out and felt “????”.

      I agree! Job searching in itself is soooo exhausting and time-consuming. And it’s so demoralising too! Why don’t people write about this?! Hahahah agreed – I appreciate that characters can’t spend 40% of the book job-searching, but a little realism would be appreciated? XD

      I wish there were more books out there about friendships too. The transition is such a weird time, like everything is up in the air and things are so uncertain. idk, I’ve yet to read a good book that examines this. I want such a book to happen!

      The confusing years definitely have a lot of potential. Maybe one of us should start writing!

      • Seriously! I did have a career change in the middle of the college and now I’m in my fourth year and am so scared of graduating and having to figure out a different path and different means to get to the path.
        Pretty much all college students experience changes in friendship, I wonder why it hasn’t cropped up yet in a meaningful manner..
        Haha, maybe we can cowrite it :p

        • I know the feeling. I found my ‘college friends’ in my last year of high school, and I stuck with them after graduating but now we’re all going down different paths and we’ve changed so much already! Life is a strange thing.

          You’ll figure it out, Carolyn! Even if you have to work in something you don’t want to do, it’ll help you with figuring out what you DO want to do. That’s how it’s playing out for me, and I’m going to venture into things I never thought about before. It’s a journey, and you’ll be just fine, no matter how long it takes.

          • Ahhh thanks, I needed all the reassurance I could get haha. And yeah same! Some of my friends have graduated early and are already going to graduate school and it makes me feel left behind but I need to be ok with that uncertainty lol.

  15. Great post! And I completely agree with you on all of these points, but especially about self growth, and career uncertainties. (By the way, thank you for saying it’s okay not to have life figured out at 25 – I certainly don’t!) I’m 25 now, and I spent the last 3 years in a job I hated – I felt trapped and stuck and miserable (and as you said – too exhausted by life to even think about opportunities and finding a way out)… I would have LOVED to have found a book with a character who understood that, a character I could relate to. And the self-growth thing is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately with regards to books – I think one of the reasons I read so many YA books (when I’m not really in the YA bracket as such) is because characters in YA go through such dramatic character development and change so much – there’s such a focus on self-discovery. It’s something I’ve felt lacking in most of the adult fiction I’ve read – characters in these books may have their problems, but they at least seem settled in their identities, and I’m just not there yet! I would love to see more NA books that I can see myself in and relate to.

    • Hi Jess!

      Thank you so much for sharing all of that with me. I wrote this post for myself, but also for people who I know are going through the same thing. I think our stories are often left unsaid because there’s a lot of shame or embarrassment that comes with how we feel (or at least I did anyway), or people are quick to give us advice that isn’t really realistic, however easy it may seem.

      I completely understand what you mean by feeling trapped and stuck and miserable; I felt that way for a time too, and YES feeling exhausted by work and life. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything we want to do? And sometimes anything after work just feels like more work.

      I agree with the self-growth thing; it’s so fulfilling to watch the growth of others. And I sometimes hope that they’ll give me some sort of idea of what I want to do in my life.

      Well Jess, we’re still young! We’ll figure things out soon, and it’s okay if we don’t get there any time soon. c: But I believe we’ll get somewhere in the end. <3

  16. I’d love all of your points in a NA novel. Career uncertainties are obviously something they should include more often, because hell, it’s an important decision in life, and it’s not easy! It took me long to decide what I wanted to be in life! Also, I recommend Unteachable by Leah Raeder if you want to see some of your points in action. :) Great discussion!

    • Hey Vane, and thank you!

      Definitely, career uncertainty has been a big part of my life for the past few years, and there has been a lot of self-growth from then to now.

      I’ve read Raeder/Wake’s books! I adore them; his books are definitely a saving grace in the NA genre.

  17. I loved how you’ve written this post – so spot on! I haven’t read many NA novels but the ones I have read have been about relationships, love and sex – which I don’t have a problem with, but I don’t think it fully explores adulthood and life responsibilities as I would have liked to see. I still need to read that book you reviewed a while ago – Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid! I’m within the NA age bracket and what I’d like to see is more about ‘what do you do with your life after you finish school?’ I think would be more relatable to read about. In the past I’ve read so much YA contemporary about teenaged life and stuff but I need to read more adult books that deals with these kind of things you mentioned such as career changes and friendship etc. Anyway, great post! :)

    • Thank you Thuong!! I agree, which is why I wrote this post. I mean, as much as those things become more prevalent at that age, it isn’t what my friends talk about? (Idk about other people though.) So you’re right, from my experience it doesn’t adequately explore adulthood. I think at such a tumultuous and uncertain age, it is a goldmine. There is so much potential.

      Ah you absolutely must read Maybe in Another Life. I mean, it didn’t tell me what to do, but it gave me this sense of optimism? And I really needed that. So I hope, when you read it, it may help you in some way too. ^_^

      Thank you again! <3

  18. I adore this post CW! Any job/career based decision I make seems to be wracked with uncertainty. I’m starting a new course soon but now I’m not sure if it’s the career I want to purse after all *cue drama.* If I can’t sort out some of the complicated bits of it, I might defer it for a year.

    I’ve found that the NA coming of age stories that I crave, I usually find in other mediums. 1) Asian dramas that aren’t completely focused on romance. Flower Boy Next Door (despite the title) is one of my favourite NA coming of age stories. I’ve also heard that the drama ‘Misaeng’ is really good realistic depiction of working life. There’s probably a lot of slice of life webtoons, manwha and manga which might fit in the NA category.

    2) Josei slice of manga. I know this genre still focuses on romance but I think they do slice of life element for new adults really well.

    As for novels, I recently read Becoming Kirrali Lewis which touched on the struggles of first year uni life really well. 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth is set in China but falls in the NA category. Just Kids by Patti Smith is a beautiful autobiography about creativity that would also fit. I’ve found that most of the autobiographies I’ve read touch on NA job struggles: Mindy Kaling, The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer and You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day. On my NA TBR list: Laura Buzo, Leah Reader, Kirsty Eagar & Carousel by Brendan Ritchie.

    Even though urban fantasy novels tend to be marketed as romance-heavy, I’ve found that I really liked the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews because the heroine faces a lot of challenges in her job & with her workmates. Mind Games by Carolyn Crane is an interesting UF thriller because the heroine is a hypochondriac. I definitely want to read more books that explore mental health issues in NA.

    On another note, I just saw your review of Maybe in Another Life and it is now on my TBR ^^. A few bookish friends or youtuber blogs touch on NA struggles sometimes. I remember I read this really good blog with essay-articles from people in their late 20s talking about life which was comforting but I can’t seem to remember what it is called.

    • I’ve probably said this before, but I love your replies Glaiza. Always such a pleasure to read and always thought-provoking!!

      I really understand what you mean. My degree and the ideal career that comes after is EXTREMELY competitive, which makes me kinda sad because lol it doesn’t make my dreams/goals if others performed minutely better than me? ;_;

      I’ve never read Josei, but I’d definitely try it out. Do you have any recommendations for good josei? I would ask my other friends but I think they like other genres. Dx

      OOH I’ve actually heard of 20 Fragments of Ravenous Youth! A friend of mine really liked it and was telling me about it (but it was during the time I wasn’t interested in reading yet). I definitely recommend Leah Raeder; he’s a fantastic writer, esp Unteachable.

      Thank you for the recommendations!! I’ve promptly added them all to my TBR… and will get to them if I somehow dwindle my current stack, haha. I DO like urban fantasy though, so Kate Daniels interests me.

      I think mental health issues at our age would be very interesting, esp with the added responsibilities that come with adulthood – how does one cope? Do they? It feels like this age-gap comes with a lot of silence – or maybe I haven’t been exposed as much as I ought to be.

      Maybe in Another Life is really, really fantastic. I HIGHLY recommend! (As well as any of Reid’s books! ^_^)

      • Nana is probably my favourite josei manga but it also explores a lot of problematic relationships, which I wouldn’t idealise at all. However, for lighthearted josei, I do recommend Princess Jellyfish/Kuragehime – both the anime and the manga because it’s a lot of fun. You’ve probably heard of Nodame Cantabile which is also josei and close to my heart. That drama adaptation XD. Speaking of Japanese dramas, Last Friends breaks my heart but is still a fave.

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  21. This is a great choice of topic, CW. I have never wanted to go back to school as much as I did the moment it ended. *sigh* So much nostalgic feels!

    As one of those belonging in this population, I love to see a representation of myself on these books. To see that other people undergo the same struggles and experiences as I do -as manifested by the characters on these books- I learn how they deal with these cases. I have to admit I am not a wide reader of NA books (but I’m gradually trying to) so I mostly see these stuff on tv shows and movies.

    • Thanks Trisha! C:

      I know the feeling! I take the same bus as university students and I see them and think, I miss university, I envy you. (Which is probs why I want to go back next year, LOL.)

      Me too – I think characters can be a beacon in our lives if they go through the same struggles as us. TBH I enjoy NA, but it is difficult finding *REALLY* good ones. I recommend Leah Raeder though! He writes fantastic books. ^_^

      • I haven’t tried any Leah Reader though but I will add that to my TBR. I need to widen my reading preferences. Haha!

        And OMG I’m excited for next year for you! I hope you get in to that school you’re applying for. :D

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  25. What an amazing discussion post! I haven’t read much NA but in regards to those I have read, I definitely agree with you on all the points you have made. I would personally love to read more NAs with a slow burning romances and touches on diversity/mental illness.

    • Hi Jenna!

      Thank you so much! I do too – and a lot of people have pointed out that they want mental illness explored in NA… someone needs to write that book soon!

      If you’re interested in NA, I’d love to give you some recommendations! c:

        • I loooooove Leah Raeder/Elliot Wake!! His books are AMAZING, especially his first one, Unteachable.
          He also wrote Black Iris, which is much darker, much much more gritty, but awesome all the same.

          And of course, Succubus Blues, which I know you’ll love because RICHELLE MEAD!!

          Now that I think of it, I’m not an expert on NA at all. But defs read Leah Raeder/Elliot Wake! c:

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