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Growing up… and coming of age

September 19, 2012
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Catcher in the Rye, first edition cover. Cover artist: E. Michael Mitchell, published by Little Brown and Company.

 Growing up is hard to do, particularly as a teenager coming of age. This is a time of  physical, emotional and spiritual growth.  It can be exciting or scary, and is often filled with feelings full of inner turmoil and angst, as adolescence is left behind and life as an adult begins.  It’s a time for learning some important lessons in life, facing trials and tribulations, and celebrating triumphs.

Novels that explore this theme known as “coming of age”, or “bildungsroman” books,  tell the stories of characters as they embark on life-changing  adventures, face difficult issues with friends and family and  experience first love.  These books may make you laugh, even cry, and will certainly act as reminders of your own experiences growing up, no matter what your age!

This theme has been popular throughout the ages, and includes Charles Dickens most famous story, Great Expectations, with Phillip Pirrip, aka ‘Pip’ narrating his memories of growing up. Other titles that continue to be read and re-read include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Little women and Jane Eyre.  Perhaps one of the best known stories of this type is Catcher in the Rye,which tells the story of 48 hours in the life of Holden Caulfield.  Recently celebrating 50 years in print is one of the best loved, and most challenged books of this theme, To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee.    

 There are many popular contemporary versions of these books, often with a different perspective, setting or a twist. These include the Harry Potter seriesThe hunger games, and the Lovely bones, which is told from the point of view of a ghost. Have you read Never let me go, The Secret Life of Bees, or The perks of being a wallflower?  

All of the books listed above have been adapted into movies, television series and plays, which will, no doubt, make them grow even more popular!

Read all these? If you are looking for other “Coming of age” novels to read, there are many more suggestions listed on Goodreads

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