Book Recommendations

Favorite Coming-of-Age Novels


On April 25th we held a great event featuring authors Jo Ann Beard and Ralph Sassone discussing their contemporary coming-of-age-novels, In Zanesville and The Intimates. This got us thinking about the popularity of that genre over time, and we asked readers to tell us their favorite coming-of-age stories. They're not all novels, but they all fit the bill! Take a look, and then let us know your favorites in the comments below.


 

 

Great Expectations 

by Charles Dickens 

 

Follows the ups and downs of an orphan named Pip.

 

Suggested by Leonora B.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 

by Betty Smith

 

The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century

 

Suggested by Susan C.

 

 

 

 

 

Little Women 

by Louisa May Alcott  

 

Follow the lives of four sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March.

 

Suggested by Susan C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emma 

by Jane Austen

 

A novel about the perils of misconstrued romance.

 

Suggested by Susan C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birdsong 

by Sebastian Faulks

 

This intensely romantic yet stunningly realistic novel spans three generations and the unimaginable gulf between the First World War and the present.

 

Suggested by Susan C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Outsiders 

by S.E. Hinton

 

A deeply sympathetic portrayal of Ponyboy, a young man who finds himself on the outside of regular society.

 

Suggested by Susan C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Guests of War 

by Kit Pearson

 

An account of the adventures of two English children in a foreign land

 

Suggested by Susan C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Name is Asher Lev 

by Chaim Potok

 

In this stirring novel, Chaim Potok traces Asher’s passage between two identities, the one consecrated to God, the other subject only to the imagination.

 

Suggested by Michael D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bell Jar 

by Sylvia Plath

 

Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time.

 

Suggested by Kathleen D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romeo and Juliet 

by William Shakespeare

 

Shakespeare's masterful tragedy about two young "star-cross'd lovers"

 

Suggested by Kathleen D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Kill A Mockingbird 

by Harper Lee


Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.

 

Suggested by Amy H.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventures of Augie March 

by Saul Bellow

 

Tells the story of a poor Chicago boy growing up during the Great Depression.

 

Suggested by Roslyn W.

 

 

 

 

 

A Separate Peace 

by John Knowles

 

A harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence.

 

Suggested by A.L. R.-W.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Time 

by Frank Conroy

 

A brilliant portrayal of one boy's passage from childhood to adolescence and beyond.

 

Suggested by Eileen E.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Member of the Wedding 

by Carson McCullers

 

The story of the inimitable twelve-year-old Frankie, who is utterly, hopelessly bored with life until she hears about her older brother’s wedding.

 

Suggested by Jill W.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter 

by Carson McCullers 

 

John Sing becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s.

 

Suggested by Jill W.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lover 

by Marguerite Duras

 

This is the haunting tale of a tumultuous affair between an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover.

 

Suggested by Jill W.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Must Remember This 

by Joyce Carol Oates

 

An American family in the 1950's probes the tender division between the permissible and the forbidden, between ordinary life and the secret places of the heart.

 

Suggested by Jill W.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Boy's Life 

by Tobias Wolff

 

This unforgettable memoir, by one of our most gifted writers, introduces us to the young Toby Wolff, by turns tough and vulnerable, crafty and bumbling, and ultimately winning.

 

Suggested by Jill W.

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