Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Coming of Age Books

Try asking people for examples of coming-of-age novels.  Most readers agree that these stories follow the changes experienced as a character matures from youth or adolescence to adulthood.  Perhaps adulthood should not be measured in years, but in a character’s evolving and expanding view of the world.  Maybe it is when the character realizes that he/she is not the center of the world, but a participant.  Scarlett O’Hara took so long to reach that point that I was surprised to find Gone With the Wind on one coming-of-age list.  I think readers could argue if Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird should be replaced on coming-of-age lists by Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.
Older lists of coming-of-age novels contain books such as Anne of Avonlea, David Copperfield, and The Secret Garden.  Slightly newer lists will contain Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Lord of the Flies, and S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders.  An even newer list will have Nick & Norah’s Playlist, Secret Life of Bees, Kite Runner, Perks of being a Wallflower, Eleanor & Park, About a Boy and Fangirl.  John Green has dominated the market with Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Fault in Our Stars.  J.K Rowling gave us the Harry Potter series and Suzanne Collins created Katnis Everdeen and the Hunger Games trilogy.  We have watched all of these characters mature whether we like or dislike the adults they became.
Although I have read and enjoyed many of the titles mentioned above, my coming-of-age list would include Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks, Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns, Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford and Montana 1948 by Larry Watson.  It is an eclectic mix, spanning from 17th century Holland to the mid-century United States. Whatever your definition of coming-of-age novels may be, these books can be enjoyed long after adolescence.

-S. Bakos

Related lists:
Coming of Age books on Goodreads
11 Coming-of-Age Books from the Huffington Post
Flavia Comes of Age
Bildungsroman definition 
Great Coming of Age Novels on Pinterest
Harry Potter Comes of Age

No comments: