Wednesday, August 01, 2007

So Why Isn't This YA?

Sherman Alexie has a YA book coming out in September that is being chatted up in some circles. That's all I know on that subject.

However, Alexie's book Flight came out in April, and I do know that it's just wonderful. And it seems darn close to YA to me.

At the beginning of the story, Flight's fifteen-year-old main character is angst-ridden for very good reasons. He falls in with bad company and ends up dead. Then he starts traveling through time, always (well, with one exception) ending up in some confrontation between Native Americans and whites. Sometimes he's in the body of a white character, sometimes he's in the body of a Native American. (Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, uses the term Indian in the book and at his website.) In almost every case, someone is trying to force him to commit a violent act.

The book involves a young character who is definitely in search of self. It also takes acne seriously, which we tend to think of as the curse of the adolescent. Don't laugh. The book doesn't make light of it.

Why wasn't this published as YA? Because Alexie was publishing another YA book this year?

Sometimes I'm embarrassed by my need for novelty. I like YA, but sometimes you do see a lot of similar material published in that genre. For instance, you get your boarding school with a dead character books. You get your Holden Caulfield books. You get your girls with posse books. You get your books in the form of diaries.

While I was reading Flight, I was so excited because, at least as far as I was concerned, this was new ground.

Here's the positive aspect of publishing Flight for adults. Maybe that way it has the potential to become a cross-over book like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

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