Date of Award

Fall 2021

Degree Type

Honors Project



First Advisor

James Jesson


Young adult literature, a genre of literature made to appeal to adolescents, has been a success within its target demographic for decades. Because of its intended audience and resulting subject matter, there are many who are either dismissive or ignorant of the genre, seeing it as inherently below other genres in terms of complexity or simply never bothering to give it the time of day. However, this paper argues that it is this effort to relate to this intended audience and their lives, most notably from a mental perspective, that grants the genre depth that is equal to more traditional genres. Through analyzing the mental states of protagonists of the Catcher in the Rye, the Outsiders, the Book Thief, and the Perks of Being a Wallflower, and backing up these analyses with secondary sources, the complexity of thought that young adult literature is capable of through its nuanced portrayals of its themes and characters will be confirmed.