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Now, a word in favor of grownup books.
I live in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. We moved here when the lake was a hole in the ground, the golf course a splotch of mud and the library was a promise. Coyotes used to roam the streets and for awhile a naked homeless man lived in the canyon. We’ve grown up considerably since those early days before grocery stores and dry cleaners came to settle in the town center. Now, we not only have water in our lake and grass on the golf course, we also have restaurants, movie theaters, and a fine library. Rancho is a lovely place to be, but that doesn’t mean anyone from Mission Viejo shops here. The rumor is that Rancho citizens will shop in Mission Viejo, simply because for years the shopping in Mission Viejo was the closest option, but the favor isn’t returned. Why would the Mission Viejo people ever need to cross the bridge to Rancho? It just isn’t done.
Can the same thing be true for young adult lit? Adults read books about teenagers, but do teenagers read books about the middle-aged? (Probably only if they’ve been given school assignment.) With this knowledge in my pocket, it makes sense to write young adult lit. Except that it seems that everyone has a young adult story to tell…and did you know that the majority of readers are sister baby-boomers? Baby boomers have the most disposable time and income—but are they interested in reading about the middle aged?
The novel I just finished, A Ghost of a Second Chance, is about a woman approaching forty. Forty isn’t old. There’s a joke about a woman going through menopause who is at the doctor’s office and she tells him, but forty is the new thirty and he replies, tell that to your ovaries. So, our ovaries haven’t gotten the message, but has our society? With the rise of magazines such as More and bestsellers such as What Alice Forgot and Chasing Rainbows can we say the tide has turned? Can we start reading about grown-ups?
I hope so. I really want to catch that wave. But, tell me what do you think? Is the world ready, willing and eager for books about grown-ups or is the fascination with youth too strong to overcome?