Young Adult Literature

Phillip Serrato

in Latino Studies

ISBN: 9780199913701
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:
Young Adult Literature

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  • History of the Americas
  • US Cultural History


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Young-adult literature typically refers to texts written for and usually about adolescents. In some cases, a text not specifically written for a young-adult readership might be folded into the genre, owing to its stylistic accessibility or content that resonates with adolescent experiences. Young-adult literature conventionally features teenage protagonists growing up and coming of age by confronting and working through an array of issues endemic to adolescence. Matters of family, friends, sex, sexuality, drugs, and religious faith are commonly incorporated. The narrative outcome in young-adult literature tends to be the attainment of some type of resolution of these matters via a protagonist’s arrival at some understanding of the conflict. All the while, the protagonist’s ability to fashion a sense of self, a sense of place in the community, and a sense of future is usually at stake. While Latino/a young-adult literature features the usual characteristics that one finds in young-adult literature, culturally specific content and concerns distinguish it. These texts often feature adolescent protagonists dealing with racism or cultural identity. Protagonists might also confront social issues that often plague Latino communities, such as poverty, drugs, and gangs. Matters of family and sex frequently weigh on protagonists in culturally specific ways. To accommodate and articulate the diverse experiences of contemporary Latino/a youth, authors have not only ventured into different subjects; they have also experimented with and within different genres, including trauma fiction, poetry, and the graphic novel. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries some authors have explored new possibilities in paranormal fiction for teens. Overall, because the same themes that characterize young-adult literature generally also appear in Latino/a young-adult literature specifically, Latino/a young-adult literature can be seen as holding universal relevance and appeal at the same time that, in its reflection of Latino/a experiences, it carries a special significance for Latino/a adolescent readers.

Article.  9398 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; US Cultural History

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