I’m amazed at the amount of interest concerning the “New Adult” fiction genre. Blogs, book blurbs and redefining what it means to grow up has been taking over the books and the news about the books over the past year..
It’s interesting what happens when the rules of the game change. For example, a book about college life and romance set in 1969 -1970 and the struggles of the 20 – 22 year olds seniors about to graduate was published as a book about kids or adults depending on who’s talking and listening, and their lives in 1969 – 1970.
Viola! Ta Da! The New Adult genre comes to town.
And I have to admit that I like it. A lot. This same book is much more interesting. Yeah it’s still about the obvious –
- Boys and girls transforming into men and women, ages 21 to 23 years old
- College life
- Drugs, sex and rock and roll
- Consequences of making one decision over another
But, the emergence of the New Adult genre and the inevitable list of criteria that follows anything new as we try to understand it, the novel, Life’s What Happens, has been pushed to the forefront of interest for one reason. It looks at what it means to be a new adult in another time. Here’s the NA Romance “Life’s What Happens” and some insight into the book.:
ü College life – Life’s What Happens is told in flashback and the flashback is 100% the senior year for nine fraternity brothers and their friends. It’s all college all the time.
ü Moving out of your parents’ house and living alone for the first time – Most of the characters in the Life’s What Happens story live on campus or in town and not at home and all for the first time. What’s interesting is the character arc of those that maintain a weekend tie to their families and those that are immersed into the on-campus life.
ü First jobs – By senior year they have studied and majored in the classes necessary for their first real job as an adult. This criteria is part of the angst that some of the characters go through. What happens if you’re not allowed to start your career? What will you do about it?
ü Deciding who you want to be, career-wise, and in general. Identity issues. Existential issues. – By senior year they have made these decisions and are actively trying to make their decisions come true.
ü First serious relationships, finding love – Anyone who has gone through college knows that it was very rare that anyone retained any opposite sex relationships by the time they reached their senior year. In Life’s What Happens one of the nine fraternity brothers set out in their senior year to accomplish this.
ü Sex – It’s less important that it be a “first time” as it is in YA. But the character should still be figuring stuff out. Since our readers can watch R rated movies, we can also be a little more explicit here without as much controversy. – Because this is all about New Adults in 1969 and 1970 and despite the publicity or history of the sex in the sixties, sex then was different than sex in the 21st century especially compared to the beliefs and actions of the millennial generation, the target market to a degree of the New Adult genre.
ü Experimentation – Sex, drugs, alcohol. Of course, not all new adults engage in experimentation, but the phrase, “I experimented with “x” in college,” is a phrase for a reason. – Drugs were relatively segregated to some of the class of 1970 but wine, beer and hard liquor were center stage. Even states were confused back then with the application of blue laws and 3.2 beer. Fake IDs were a cottage industry for one purpose and that wasn’t to outsmart and outwit the TSA.
ü Isolation – Living alone for the first time can be difficult – Most of the characters in Life’s What Happens lived in the fraternity house where living there was more difficult to living alone.
ü Single life – New adults often do not have life partners and families yet, so their main relationships may be with friends and boyfriends/girlfriends. – Many stories centered around the characters living their life with their brothers and girlfriends on campus and no longer at home with family.
ü A struggle to “find yourself” – This was the mantra of the 1960’s. No further comment needed. Yes there is actually. The major plot point in the book is what happens when everyone finally is on the path to fining themselves and someone totally blocks the path.
ü Change – Moving out, going to college, finding a job…it’s a lot of transition. – Triple check and then add the draft road block thrown at them with a last minute Thanksgiving Eve congressional vote. You never can say enough about Nixon.
ü Money challenges – Goes without saying. In some cases in the story a temporary shortage of money and the decisions made can lead to a life time change in goals.
Don’t let the term romance and new adult fool you. Experts today are still explaining how the book series Fifty Shades of Gray qualifies as a new adult romance but a comparison with the preceding checklist and it becomes obvious. What’s interesting is what passed for normal and beyond normal in this arena in 1969.
Here’s the book. Enjoy!