Will the Real NA Please Stand Up

I've been biting my tongue, but I can't take it any longer. Articles and posts like this one from The New York Times - which group Easy (and Slammed, by Colleen Hoover) with any book ever labeled "New Adult" - bother me. Yes, I realize it's human nature to mass-define seemingly similar things… but often, those definitions just don't fit.

My publisher is probably thrilled that my book was mentioned on the front page of the Arts section of The New York Times, but Easy is NOT more sexually explicit than other novels found at the mature end of Young Adult. It is not "Harry Potter meets 50 Shades of Grey," nor does it include "significantly more sex, explicitly detailed" than typical mature young adult books like The DUFF, Perfect Chemistry, The Sky is Everywhere, Where She Went or Such a Rush. (Also this ignorant line: "Vampire and wizard fans are apparently ready for characters who shed their robes and show a little more skin." Really? So this is all about sex and… genre-switching? Huh. That's odd. Because the popular New Adult novels listed are contemporary, not paranormal. Which the article’s author would have known, had she read any of them. Or a description of any of them.)

I didn't set out to launch (or join) a new category of novel, though I'm happy to label my books with whatever tags assist buyers in finding them. As a woman who works as an academic advisor on a university campus, a survivor of sexual assault at the hands of a classmate in my early twenties, and an indie-published author of three novels featuring main characters in the 17-22 age range, I wanted the setting of Easy to be a college campus, not high school. To many readers, that fact alone constituted the "New Adult" tag, and I had no problem with this until recently.

Peruse the content of Young Adult books at your local bookstore, and you'll find a range from sugary-sweet to downright steamy where sex is concerned. This is nothing new. When my oldest kid entered the YA reader market over a decade ago, I sat in the Young Adult aisle at the Barnes & Noble (on the floor, usually), perusing each book before we purchased it. Yes, the advent of online books has made this parenting duty more difficult in some ways, but don't make me enumerate the obstacles and inconveniences I faced as a parent of young kids when there was no internet for them - or me - to surf for products and information. Parenting is a difficult job. It always has been; it always will be.

Maybe there does need to be a New Adult section (though ugh, I do hate that title), or at least a labeling system within Young Adult. Since I'd be dreaming to assume the US might mimic Canada or the UK and understand that our 16-year-olds are the real beginner adults, "Mature Young Adult" or "New Adult" in the US could begin at age 17. (Like R-rated movies and M-rated games. Which. I've. Said. Before.)

But please, stop tossing every novel containing main characters aged 18-23 into the supposed New Adult Sex Pool. Some of us don't intend to swim there.

Tammara Webber

New York Times and international bestselling author of contemporary romantic fiction