Okay, I know that this title is a bit challenging, but it gets at an issue I want to address.  As a librarian for a PreK to Grade 8 school, I spend a good amount of time screening books that get labeled "young adult" or "adolescent."  In part, I like to make sure the subject matter is appropriate for our middle school aged children.  Some books deal very frankly with information that is completely appropriate for high school students, but much less so for 7th and 8th graders.  Sometimes, I am screening out the worst of the ever-popular spate of books on "My parent has a terminal disease and I feel guilty about wanting to have fun" or on "I am suffering from some dread secret, problem, trauma, etc., and need to share how I feel."

But I have discovered something completely unexpected in these voyages into young adult literature.  I am finding books that I am reading, as an adult, with pleasure and curiosity.  Often, I find myself wondering, why has this particular book been classified as "young adult"?

The answer is still in the process of emerging for me.  I found "The Book Thief" to be an engrossing and engaging book, truly worthy of an audience beyond just the adolescent one.  Yet it regularly shows up in classifications as a young adult book.  While students in 7th and 8th grades could certainly read it and understand it (albeit that its length might be somewhat daunting), and while Amazon describes as for "Grades 9 and up,"  it is a book that is just as appropriate for adults.  In fact, every adult that I have recommended the book to has read it through, and has found it compelling and moving.

So why the label?  The best that I can figure is that publishers have decided that such books that are not easily classified as a recreational adult genre (mystery, romance, thriller) and which have plot lines that are explored in a primarily chronological fashion (not artsy enough for the reader of literary adult fiction), must by  default be for young adults, especially if there are none of those danger markers (usually sex) that will get the book challenged by parents.

And such labeling is unfortunate.  While I am glad that middle and high school children will read this book (often in a classroom), I find it sad that the wider adult audience may never stumble upon this book and gain its insights into the human condition.