Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Congratulations, Caridad Ferrer

Adios to My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer is the 2007 RITA Winner for Best Contemporary Single Title!

The RITA Awards are sponsored by the Romance Writers of America, and it is the romance-publishing industry's highest award of distinction.

And, Adios to My Old Life is a YA title. How cool is that?

Thanks to Smart Bitches, who posted about this book winning. And, apparently, in the Romance world there is a bit of discussion about whether a YA title should have won. I don't know the history of the award or the criteria, but I found the comments very interesting. A lot of discussion (most of it polite & respectful) about what is YA? and what is romance? And is it possible or impossible for a book to be both YA and romance?

I haven't read the book yet; but overall, I think yes, a book can be both YA and romance. I am disappointed by many YA books called "romance" because there is no HEA (that's a new acronym I just learned, it's the Happy Ever After. Love it!) and I think a romance needs HEA. I think YA is a big umbrella, and contains romance, science fiction, horror, etc. Any possible genre can be found in YA (which, btw, is why I don't like using the word "genre" for YA; I don't see it as a genre, but as an age range.)

So I'm looking forward to reading this book, especially since this win makes me strongly suspect I'll get my HEA!

Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels review
Latina YA review
Little Willow/Bildungsroman review & interview


web said...

How 'bout this comment:
"My disappointment comes from the idea if that if the BEST that single title romance had to offer all year was a YA -then I think that reflects poorly on single-title romance."

Le sigh.

Liz B said...

I think the reason that didn't bother me is that it reminded me of some of the adult vs young adult booklists and awards arguments. I know many people believe that many people believe that "ya is great enough without looking towards adult titles" for booklists & awards, and others think "if we awards & booklists for teens become open for adult titles, we run a risk of no YA title ever being on the list/winning the award".

Is YA strong enough to stand alone? Or, will those who prefer adult literary always assume that adult literary is better, and is the best way to stop that from hurting YA books to keep adult titles off booklists & awards?

Since, basically, that IS a convo I hear in the YA world, I cannot complain about a vaguely similar convo happening in a genre world.

Little Willow said...

Read it! I think you'll like it. I'm so excited for Caridad. I wouldn't categorize it as a romance - it's a story about a teen girl who is involved in a televised bilingual singing competition, and her life and her journey naturally includes her family and her crushes. There's more to it than it sounds because of the great characters - great interaction with her father; a sweet boy falls for her; interesting contestants; a wonderful woman who helps her see her father as a person, not just her dad - and the character's tries at original music + balancing cultures.

Read it now, so you'll be ready for It's Not About the Accent, Caridad's next book, which is due out next month. It's not a sequel to Adios - no characters in common - but both stories have interesting characters and good writing, and Accent is even more about cultural identity + finding yourself.

Anonymous said...

But maybe it was a poor year for single title romances. I hadn't read any of the nominees in this category until I read Adios on Monday, but then again, my taste and that of the RITA judges rarely overlap. I don't know, maybe I'm feeling snarky because I'm so dissatisfied with the majority of romances published today.

...but overall, I think yes, a book can be both YA and romance. I am disappointed by many YA books called "romance" because there is no HEA and I think a romance needs HEA. I think YA is a big umbrella, and contains romance, science fiction, horror, etc. Any possible genre can be found in YA (which, btw, is why I don't like using the word "genre" for YA; I don't see it as a genre, but as an age range.)

I agree, YA is an age range, not a genre. Which is why there is such a thing as Young Adult romance. But I don't think non-historical romance, whether it's published for adults or teens, needs an HEA. I'm in the "satisfying ending" camp. As long as the couple is committed to each other and the ending optimistic, I'm happy.

The problem with YA romance as I see it is that I generally don't find them as compelling or satisfying as what I've taken to calling the YA-book-with-a-romantic-subplot. Adult romance is stereotyped as porn for women, yet YA romances (or what I define as YA romance, anyway) are just about the cleanest books you'll find in YA sections. They're too safe. Both in terms of sex, or the lack thereof, and storytelling. The YA romances just seem more stale, less exciting than the rest of YA fiction (and I would also argue that this applies to most adult romances, too. Hence the aforementioned dissatisfaction with most of them). I'm not saying adding sex to YA romances will make them better, but some lust or sexual interest would be nice. Just as long as I don't get the feeling that the book is playing it safe simply because of the perception of adult romances.

Liz B said...

I'm getting ready to go to work, so just a quick comment.

What annoys me is that I find people calling any ya book with a love interest romance, even when the ending of the books is "and now the girl, wiser as to the ways of the world and of (bad/wild/etc boys), moves forward with self confidence, ready for the next boy." So, the couple are not together, it's been a Lesson.

I think a book can be coming of age AND romance; but when the break up with the boy is used to illustrate COA, then I don't think it can be a romance because (and it appears I may have been using HEA wrong, sigh, the risks of a fun new abbreviation) the couple is not together.

What I tend to find is teen readers who say Romance want an ending where the couple are Together (not necessarily married with babies, but together.) So they often read adult romance.

Anonymous said...

Liz, no,you're using HEA correctly. I think I should have been clearer in my comment above that while most romance readers want a HEA, I'm one of those contrary folk who thinks if HEA means (as it often seems to) an epilogue in which the couple is married and popping out babies, then it's not necessary in a romance novel, particularly contemporaries.

The definition of romance differs among people who read romance novels and those who don't. Romance readers believe that if a book is labeled a romance and marketed as such, the focus of the book should be on the romance and that the ending must show the couple (or members of the relationship, perhaps I should say) committed to each other and the relationship. If this is enough for a HEA, then yes, it needs to have a HEA. But non-romance readers tend to think anything with a romantic relationship is a romance, even if there is no HEA, e.g., Romeo and Juliet or The Bridges of Madison County. Romance readers may read them, but would not consider them a romance. And I think the same applies to YA books. The "romance" label may be correct by definition, but not in terms of genre convention. I definitely agree that in a YA book, if the couple breaks up or one of them dies, it ain't a romance. But then, subtitling a book "Coming of Age" isn't as intriguing or, well, romantic as one that says "A Romance."