Summer usually means having a bit more free time on your hands to relax, so I though that I'd share with you a few great coming of age novels to read on those lazy summer afternoons! People commonly associate "coming of age novels" with stories about young adolescents who grow and mature emotionally through adventures, but coming of age novels are not restricted to featuring youthful protagonists! No matter what age a person is, he or she still has the potential to develop and learn through new experiences. Books of this genre are easy to identify with and can provide you with the opportunity to "come of age" yourself. Skim through this list of some of my favorite coming of age novels that are sure to inspire.
This book, one of my absolute favorite coming of age novels, is a beautifully written story that follows Victoria Jones through her childhood spent in foster care, to life as an adult. Heartbroken and troubled, Victoria ends up on the streets after she ages out of the foster care system. Everything seems hopeless for this lonely protagonist until she finds work at a local florist shop and discovers her love and talent for arranging flowers. This novel invites you to discover the meaning behind flowers, the definition of family, and the true essence of love. You'll find yourself rooting for Victoria, hoping that she gets a second chance at happiness, and you'll marvel at her ability to grow and move on from an unspeakable past.
One of my favorite books, "Amaryllis in Blueberry", illustrates various coming of age stories between its pages. The Slepy family, Dick, Seena, and their four daughters, venture from a comfortable life in Michigan to the mysterious world of Africa for missionary work. The alien culture entrances and changes each member of this shattered family in unforeseeable ways. If you've read "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver, you are sure to love this underrated, hidden gem of a book. Exquisitely written, this novel moves chapter by chapter through each different and haunting voice of its unforgettable characters. This book has much to teach about parenthood, marriage, sibling rivalry, and faith.
While not explicitly a coming of age novel, I put "Beside a Burning Sea" under this category because of the incredible, life-changing journey its characters undergo. During World War II, Benevolence, an American hospital ship that rescues wounded American and Japanese soldiers, is struck by a torpedo, sending the magnificent ship to its watery grave. A mere nine survivors find their way to a nearby island; one that is uninhabited and assumedly uncharted. Fearing their discovery by the Japanese and hoping for their discovery by Americans, many of these survivors will find their way into your heart. A story about survival, falling in love, rediscovering yourself, and facing your fears, "Beside a Burning Sea" is the ultimate (and did I mention tropical?) coming of age novel for you to read this summer.
This multi-generational novel is the perfect example of how people are constantly evolving and growing, no matter what age they are . Thirty-five year old Anna and her estranged grandmother, Goldie, reunite for an unforgettable road trip from New York to San Francisco. Goldie, a demanding women, has high expectations of her granddaughter, who is struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband. Goldie harbors painful secrets regarding her past as a young lady in 1904's San Francisco; secrets that Anna is determined to uncover. This bittersweet novel about family, art, loss, and forgiveness will have you wishing for it to not end.
This brilliant and unique coming of age book tells the story of Santiago, a young shepherd boy content with his peaceful, but mundane, life. That is until he begins to have recurring dreams of a hidden treasure near the pyramids of Egypt. Santiago's strange encounter with a psychic convinces him to journey to far off lands in search of this magnificent treasure. Santiago grows spiritually throughout his years of travelling; learning from his mistakes and uncovering valuable lessons about the world, and the cultures of other people. I promise, you won't regret picking up this beautiful and inspiring novel about a boy who follows his heart and fulfills his destiny.
I read this book during my senior year of high school for an AP Literature course and I remember a vast majority of my classmates being intrigued by Things Fall Apart. It successfully tells two intertwining stories; both of which revolve around Okonkwo, a respected man of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first story is a devastating account of Okonkwo's banishment from the tribe after a horrible mistake; the latter about the clash between cultures and destruction of Okonkwo's world due to the arrival of European missionaries. This coming of age book paints the conflict between humans of different cultures and beliefs as well as a man's struggle to regain his honor.
Last, but certainly not least, on this list is Donna Tart's fantastic, Pulitzer-prize winning novel, "The Goldfinch". This brilliant and seemingly epic novel follows Theodore Decker's life from childhood to adulthood and all of the troubling experiences he has as an adolescent. Moved from home to home, Theodore changes and grows (for better and for worse) as he adapts to multiple environments, forges relationships, and learns more about his family and himself. This story of family, loss, obsession, survival, and self-invention is sure to have you up all night ravaging its pages.
I hope that some of you check out these excellent reads! Which one intrigues you the most? If you have read any of these books, what did you learn from them?
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