Yesterday was my glorious critique group day. I look forward to this meeting every two weeks. Maybe it's because of what I learn from them, but mostly it's how good it feels to be around people so passionate about the same things.
We had a discussion on what genre our current WIP should be under--middle grade or young adult. We tossed around the notion that the protagonists age could determine the audience, but pointed out several books where that didn't work. We thought about word choice and dialogue, and that seemed to vary significantly between the two types.
The area we all agreed upon is the degree of complexity of content between MG and YA. What the protagonist is going through and how they grow throughout the book, will often determine the ages of the largest target audience. I know I don't want my MG reader to be absorbed in a book involving sex, adult language and violence. There will be plenty of years to read, witness and understand the realities of our imperfect world. If I can help her maintain her innocence for a wee bit longer, I'll do it!
I came across this article on the Guide to Literary Agents blog and thought it was a great resource for this continuing discussion. "Five Articles on the Differences Between Middle Grade and Young Adults."