Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Granola and The New Adult Conundrum

(DISCLAIMER: This is a raw and unpolished rant. If you read it again after I've cleaned it up, it might be very different.)

For those of you who don't know the details of my MS, BURN, the MC is a nineteen year old girl, in love with a twenty-four year old guy, with a twenty-one year old antagonist. Welcome to my personal hell.

I don't know if you believe in the myth that is the new adult genre and I'm not going to try to persuade you either way. I do, however, want you to take a little trip with me. Let's go back to high school, shall we? Actually, let's go back to the sixth grade. 

You got lucky and have homeroom with your best friends, Nicole and Sarah, and the boy you've been crushing on since way back in fifth grade. It's been like a whole year since you started writing his name with hearts dotting the i's but he still doesn't "like you" like you. It's totally stupid Haley's fault. She stuck a note in his locker that said you wanted to go out with him, now he eats lunch on the other side of the cafeteria. Nicole's on student council with you and her mom picks you both up after school on Thursdays-- yay, no stupid school bus! Nicole got Just Dance 4 so you bring your Wii remote in your backpack and kick her butt at "Moves With Jagger" after school on student council days. She's awesome! You read MG fiction and love anything with faeries or angels. 

Now fast forward a little to your junior year of high school. Nicole's going out with Nick-- yeah, your Nick --so you hang out with Sarah instead. Sarah's cool though so no worries. Oh, and you've moved on from Nick anyway. Jeremy's a senior with a black Jeep and he's on the varsity wrestling team. He could totally kick Nick's butt if he wanted to. You watch for him between first and second period every day, hoping he'll bump into you on the way to his locker so you can say hi. Your parents let you drive the Camry on the days you have to work after school. It's a piece of junk but it runs. The manager at Dairy Queen is super nice and only schedules you for two Saturdays a month. The Saturdays you don't work are your fave. You and Sarah Skype Jeremy and post derp face pictures on Facebook. You're way excited about Breaking Dawn 2. Sarah's coming with you to the marathon thing where they show all the movies right up 'til the new one starts at midnight. You've read the books a million times. 

Baby number three is on the way and your daughters are all hoping for another girl. Jake wants a boy and you hope he gets his wish. The ultrasound is scheduled for next week and Jake's planning on breaking away from the office for a bit so he can be there with you when you find out if it's a boy or a girl. Your sister-in-law, Laura, wants to throw you a baby shower but it's your third kiddo so you don't want her to go through all that trouble. The carpet in the living room needs to be cleaned after that nasty stomach bug hit the kids and Olivia puked on the floor. There's enough room in the budget for a professional cleaning, but you'd rent a Rug Doctor and do it yourself. If you're going to take the kids to the beach this summer, you have to save money wherever you can. It's an election year and you're concerned about healthcare. Jake's company plan doesn't make much of a dent in Emily's medical bills. She'll probably need surgery to correct her atrial septal defect and it's not going to be cheap. If necessary, the van can be refinanced and you might be able to get a home equity loan. You've overpaid on the mortgage every month so there's definitely equity there. You read whenever you can, even if it means staying up late for kid-free quiet time. You read in waiting rooms, in the pick-up line after school, and during Emily's afternoon naps. 

That's how all of us grew up, right? We were 'tweens with BFFs and crushes, teenagers with super-important social lives, and suddenly had responsibilities and a family. Going from MG to YA to adult cuts out a huge section of life-- the early adult time. Remember this? You're finally out from under the tyranny of your parents. You choose what to eat, what to watch, where to go. If you want to put off doing the dishes, no one's going to ride you about it. You can live on ramen and Frosted Flakes and spend your grocery money on drinks with friends or a butterfly tattoo (because NO ONE can tell you not to get one, dammit!). For the first time of your life, you're free. Want to have a guy over? Do it. Want to let your apartment get cluttered? Suck it, neatness! And the boobs, the boobs are fabulous. You wear push-up bras and skinny heels and get your belly button pierced. Your body's a new car; it's pretty and runs smooth as silk. You might not appreciate it yet, but your tummy's flat and your thighs are narrow. Bikinis (because NO ONE can tell you not to pick the skimpiest one, dammit!), and thongs or sweats and flip-flops. Everything looks great on you. It's a time between being a kid and being a "real" adult. A time when you make crucial decisions about school, work, and marriage. It's a walk along the edge of a cliff-- exciting and terrifying at the same time. It's short but it's wonderful.

Whether you subscribe to the new adult theology, new adults do exist. The projected market for new adult shouldn't be limited to people in that age range. Teenagers dream about turning eighteen and finally being an adult (suckers), and adults reminisce about the good old days. New adult is the place between child and adult and it's absolutely magical for YA and adult readers. A recent article in The Huffington Post gave statistics showing the majority of readers are in the new adult age range. Bonus points if you remember the article and post a link in the comments section. Does it need to be its own genre with its own shelf? Most adults looking for younger fiction go to the YA shelves. Teenagers looking for mature YA also go to the YA shelves. If nineteen-year old, recent graduate protags are shelved with adult books, they'll be lucky if they reach their target market.

So, I lied. I am going to try to persuade you. I don't think new adult should be a genre. I think books that would be considered new adult should be sold as YA-- even if the characters are 18-22. Yes, there are books with characters in that age group that are clearly adult fiction, but I'd be willing to wager most of them are YA.

If you've stayed with me this long, reward yourself with this week's recipe; Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola. Spicy, fragrant, and timely, this granola is divine with Greek yogurt or ice cream, made into granola bars, served with coconut or almond milk, or just eaten by the handful. Play around with the dry ingredients to find your own favorite combination and double it if you're really, REALLY hungry.


1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 cup pecans
1/8 cup golden flaxseed
1/8 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup shredded coconut
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 t vanilla
1 T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1/8 t allspice
1/8 t ginger
pinch of salt
1/3 cup Craisins
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

In a large bowl, toss almonds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, flaxseed, wheat germ, coconut, and oats until evenly mixed.

Combine in another bowl; pumpkin puree, oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and spices. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and toss until evenly coated.

Spread mixture on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about an hour at 325 degrees, stirring every fifteen minutes, until granola just starts to become crunchy. It will continue to get crunchier as it cools. Add Craisins during the last fifteen minutes of baking and add chocolate chips when granola is completely cool.