Labels Have Power

I’ve been calling Above World my “YA mermaid book” for so long, that it only occurred to me last week that it’s actually Middle Grade, not Young Adult.

I find myself strangely pleased by this discovery. I never really read any YA when I was growing up, but I devoured every single Newberry book I could get my hands on. (In the fourth and fifth grades, I was allowed to read Newberry books in the library instead of attending English class. This probably explains my long-lasting battle with grammar and spelling.) It was those earlier years that really helped form me, that offered me the paths that I’m still traveling today.

In many ways, “middle grade” and “young adult” are just marketing labels. But something profound happens to me when I think about writing for these younger readers: I tap into a little more of the hope and innocence and sense of wonder that I’m trying to capture in my story.