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Popular Young Adult Fiction Themes

There's no question about it: Young Adult (YA) fiction has exploded over the past few years. The YA audience (pre-teens and teens between 13 and 18 years old) is a hot market, steadily growing in popularity and garnering the attention of young readers. Authors of YA fiction often focus on themes which directly affect their young readers. It's a great place for storytelling where authors can use words to address present youth issues in an attempt to help their readers cope with difficult experiences.

Coming of Age

One of the most popular themes covered by Young Adult fiction is the transition of the young protagonist from childhood to adulthood. Usually written from a first person point of view, the main character often faces issues or challenges associated with the transition. Authors focus on how the characters undergo a mental and emotional change as a result of confronting said issues, either on their own or with the help of others.

Examples: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Building Relationships

Building relationships is another popular theme addressed in YA fiction. The main character faces challenges that he/she could not overcome without the help of family and friends. Although the bond between the protagonist and his/her family and friends may begin shakily, it is made stronger during the course of the story after having conquered trials in the midst of mutual difficulty.

Examples: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Self-Discovery

In a self-discovery Young Adult fiction theme, the protagonist learns more about himself as he faces different issues. These issues force him/her to question the authority and the beliefs on which he was raised. The story chronicles the main character's process of seeking the truth of an accepted reality, forcing him to become his own person and eventually inspire others to follow.

Examples: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Dealing with Loss

YA fiction authors also write books on themes that help their readers deal with loss. The main character is subjected to the grief of losing someone or something special - a person, animal or object. The loss is not limited to death - loss can be the result of having absentee parents or dealing with emotional distance. The story follows how the protagonist heals and grows as a result of the tragic experience.

Examples: The Giver by Lois Lowry, Looking for Alaska by John Green

Young Love

Romantic relationships are a huge obsession for teens. Although they lack real-life experience in the love department, YA fiction makes up for it. The main characters experience firsts - first love, first kiss, first heartbreak, rejection and acceptance. While dealing with these firsts, the protagonist learns to love unconditionally and without judgment.

Examples: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, The Last Summer by Ann Brashares

Dark Side

Many argue that the "dark side" YA themes are becoming too REAL for youth to be exposed to. The course of the story involves how the protagonist explores the dark side of his/her personality in relation to society. These topics include suicide, racism, teenage pregnancy, rape and more. As the main characters explore the darker shade of society, they learn to be wary of their actions and cope with the whats, whys, hows and what ifs of their experiences.

Examples: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

There is no mystery to writing Young Adult fiction themes. Believable characters, a compelling plot and REAL life issues is a full proof recipe for creating a book that will entertain, inspire and encourage young adult readers.


Tanisha Williams is the author of two non-profit e-books 501(c)(3) in 12 Steps and Simple Internal Controls That Protect Assets. Her desire for more interaction with readers was the key inspiration behind the development of her latest business venture ChatEbooks

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