Peace Child ; Towards a global definition of the Young Adult novel
Peace Child is a 100,000 word novel for Young Adults. In a science fantasy setting it tells the story of Kaleem coming to terms with his otherness, finding out his true identity and taking on the role of the Peace Child, who negotiates between his home planet, Terrestra and Zandra, so that Terrestra can be saved from a devastating illness. The critical thesis, Towards a Global Definition of the Young Adult Novel, explores the nature of the Young Adult novel and uses as case studies over one hundred novels written in English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese, and produced on several continents. It discusses how the Young Adult novel is defined by the nature of its reader, by its use in educational settings and by the industry which produces it, as well as its content. Seven characteristics of the Young Adult novel are identified. The study was carried out at the same time as Peace Child was being written. The final chapter of the thesis shows how the critical commentary and the novel itself interact. As a result of the study the novel has become longer and more complex. The protagonists have changed. The novel now contains some experimentation with language. Explicit detail about pregnancy and childbirth has been included in an attempt to push boundaries. At times its content has been allowed to remain ambiguous, leaving the reader to decide what is happening. A final edit of the novel after the critical thesis was completed brought the main characters into clearer focus at the same time as increasing the pace by removing some of their introspection. Peace Child has also become a Bildungsroman which shows Kaleem's growth. The critical thesis is a response to the novel. The novel in this case has also become a response to the thesis.