From the Atlantic, surprisingly thorough look at the definition and history of YA. One part I liked:
“One thing Y.A. is not is a genre; it’s a category, as with adult literature, containing all sorts of types of writing, from fiction to nonfiction. As Tracy van Straaten, VP at Scholastic, reminded us, “Something people tend to forget is that YA is a category not a genre, and within it is every possible genre: fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, non-fiction. There’s so much richness within the category.””
This is rarely stated in other articles about YA. Just as in literature for adult readers, YA has a lot of variety in genre and in depth.
Even for those involved in the world of YA, it can be a hard category to define. So often writers try to figure out who their reader might be, and the divisions can be tricky. Even though readers could only be separated by a grade (say, 8th and 9th), the divisions in their worlds are vast. (Middle and high school are very different animals.)
I’m encouraged to see the Atlantic take on the question of YA without the immediate tone of condescension. (“I don’t tend to read YA, but…”) I hope this article helps readers who are curious about the category but are afraid to dive in because they don’t know much about it.