Wow, sounds like an Op-Ed piece I would hastily turn the page to avoid. . . But it did occur to me that one of the reasons YA is read by adults, who presumably know all about being teenagers, and have solved the problem of growing up (yeah, right), is this: the distance provided by time facilitates the reexamination of adolescence. Sort of like wearing asbestos gloves.
Perhaps being a grown-up means one has kids of one’s own, whose hurts and joys are all-important, and always in the forefront of one’s mind, and fiction is a good way to process those daily dramas. Or perhaps being a grown-up can be, um, rather serious, and adults long (without identifying the longing as such) for the intensity of those years, when everything moves at effortless speed and novelty is the rule rather than the exception: first love, first sex, first time away from home, first everything.
Or perhaps one has never grown up at all, and the pangs and deeps are still one’s natural habitat?
But midlife is definitely not the new adolescence.