Young Adult Literature

Growing Up, In Theory

Authored by: Karen Coats

Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Print publication date:  October  2010
Online publication date:  April  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415965057
eBook ISBN: 9780203843543
Adobe ISBN: 9781136913570


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While children’s literature often plays a central role in elementary school curriculum, young adult literature journeys toward secondary schools, but rarely arrives. Here Karen Coats, literary critic and Lacanian scholar, argues that like young adults themselves caught in a liminal state, YA literature frequently experiences a failure to launch, not simply in curriculum as Lewis and Dockter argue in their chapter of this volume, but in literary criticism as well. Coats explores the reasons that books for young adults should be a “destination literature,” rather than characterized as a short sidetrack before stepping into more sophisticated material designed for adults. She further analyzes the polyphonic, dialogic, culturally conditioned, ever changing, and emotionally laden qualities in current YA literature. In his Point of Departure essay, Markus Zusak, the astonishing author of The Book Thief, affirms Coats’s arguments in his desire to write “the right book at the right time in that ridiculously raw period of a person’s life.”

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