Crossover Appeal #3

Crossover Appeal is a weekly feature that challenges the idea that you have to choose a side between YA and adult fiction. Each week we’ll feature a book that has been marketed as YA and a book that has been marketed as adult and tell you why everyone should be reading them, no matter what happens to be your comfort zone.


YA Books for Adult Lit Readers

Skim by Mariko Tamaki (story) & Jillian Tamaki (art)

 Skim is a graphic novel about Japanese-Canadian, gothic, Wiccan, questioning, not-slim Kimberly Keiko, also known as Skim. With so many labels being thrown at her, Skim struggles to understand her classmates and herself, especially after she develops an obsessive crush on her English and theater teacher, Ms. Archer. When a popular classmate kills himself, days after dumping his girlfriend Katie, the school becomes obsessed with death and suicide, forming “save life” clubs that target melancholy students like Skim.


Why You’ll Love It

If you’re not a regular reader of graphic novels, I think this is a good place to start. Mariko’s humorous, but heavy story and Jillian’s gorgeous, Japanese-influenced art work in perfect harmony to tell Skim’s story. It’s a coming-of-age story with modern sensibilities, expressing all the frustrations, confusion, and joy that come with adolescence. It is so refreshing to see someone like Skim, a very atypical heroine, in a comic like this and the story here is strong, but it is Jillian’s art that really elevates the story. The artwork is beautiful, from the detailed expressions on the characters’ faces to the stunning full-page landscapes. I think adult and teen readers will appreciate Skim and her story; you’re sure to recognize yourself here, whether you’re living high school now or simply remembering it.

 Adult Lit Books for YA Readers

Essex County by Jeff Lemire

Originally released as a serial comic, Essex County is the story of one family throughout the generations in Essex County, Ontario, Canada. It begins at the end, with “Tales from the Farm”: Lester, a young boy, obsessed with comics, lives with his uncle. In an overly simplified summary of this comic, the rest of the story reveals why Lester lives with his uncle, and not his mother or father, going all the way back to the turn of the century to explain this family’s origins.

Why You’ll Love It

I think, at times, the distinction between YA and Adult fiction can be arbitrary. Since it’s hard to define what makes a book YA and what makes a book Adult (outside of marketing), these are mostly just books I think everyone should be reading, regardless of your favorite genre or style.  That being said, I think Essex County is great for Young Adult readers because there is a focus on plot and characterization. Though Essex County is about so much more than this family’s story, it is still as exciting as a soap opera, and I mean that in the best way possible, with plenty of twists and turns. Fans of YA will be sucked into the story by Lester’s tale and stick around to find out more. Essex County has a very distinct art that, at times, pushes the boundaries of traditional comics. It has won numerous awards, including the YALSA Alex Award, which honors adult books that “have a special appeal to teens.”  

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