New Adult Genre Showcase

by Cassie Wefald

New Adult Genre Showcase

By Gwendolyn Sibley, Librarian 1 Children’s services

In the past decade, there has been a rising genre catering to those whose high school years are behind them. The “new adult” genre aims to encompass the humor, emotional development, and realization of autonomy many 18-to-20-somethings discover. More importantly, the genre exists as a more grown-up young adult novel, and also reflects darker, spicier, and more introspective narratives. Discussed below are some examples for those who love the vibe of young adult content, but are hoping for an older lens.

Nora Sakavic’s 2013 “All for the Game” series may not be new, but certainly fits into the new adult genre. In the first book, “The Foxhole Court” Neil Josten has just entered college as a new striker for the Foxes, a fantasy sports team at Palmetto State University. Here he plays a game called Exy, an evolved version of lacrosse that takes place in an enclosed glass arena. However, Neil is not your average rookie freshman. He has a fake name, a backstory of half-truths, and is on the run from a mafia family who created the sport he loves.

The series emphasizes LGBTQ relationships throughout and presents a narrative of layered secrets, complex trauma, and frightening actions of morally gray characters. These actions include physical abuse, abandonment, use of drugs and alcohol, intimidation, and slang that is racist and homophobic. This content may not be suitable for all readers, but anyone with a love of layered mystery and sports will find a new set of books to binge.

A brand-new release is “The Stardust Thief” by Chelsea Abdullah. The book tells the tale of Loulie al-Nazari, a night merchant, whose primary trade is magic and secrets in a world inspired by the stories of the classic “1001 Arabian Nights.” Loulie and her jinn friend happen upon an undercover prince, Mazen, and upon saving his life are rewarded with a mission from the sultan himself. Abdullah provides an epic for the new adult that is rich with language and culture. It is challenging to find non-Eurocentric fantasy and magic, and this book will immerse the reader in the beauty and terror of storytelling.

This book has young adult pacing and suspense with characters that are in the early years of adulthood. Loulie is a driven and capable female lead that knows her worth and is not afraid to fight for herself. Anyone eager to balance their love of young adult stories with grown-up characters will find a gem in this book.

If you are feeling for more of an eccentric read, then Abbi Waxman’s “Adult Assembly Required” is a good place to start! Follow the interweaved lives of Laura (a newly-single but determined graduate school student), Nina (who loves books, vintage clothing, and obscure facts), Polly (an eclectic cupid who treats her pug to fine dining), and Bob (an impossibly handsome baseball/animal lover). These likeable housemates’ combined flaws and passions create a dynamic emotional journey in learning what it means to be an adult, especially in learning how to listen and take care of one’s own body and mind.

This book is Waxman’s fifth title. Even so, Waxman’s amusing writing allows for this book to be a stand-alone title. Check out the other books by the author if you like this one.

To finalize this showcase is a new adult’s own story. Immerse yourself in Amy Dong’s “Twenty-One Years Young,” series of personal essays that detail the coming-of-age musings of an almost adult. Dong presents raw and honest commentary on experiences new adults encounter in themselves or their friends: putting one’s health on the backburner to reach college goals, getting stolen from, experiencing the loss of a pet, and finally feeling the weight and glory of the expanse of life left for new adults. It is rare to find a book so deeply ingrained in life for the new adult age groups, but this rich storytelling does include depictions of depression, eating disorders, parent death and pet death. Dong’s dark humor surrounding such topics may not be right for every reader.

These are just a few titles that encompass the stories of being a new adult. More books can be found in both the library’s YA and Adult collection at the Manhattan Public Library. Feel free to ask a librarian for recommendations of more books for the new adult audience!