Reading can be a rite of passage. The unbound and unbridled joy of books is that tucked up between the pages you can find yourself, and when you recognize your own light shining back, it can be a moment where you truly feel seen. Coming of age books are notorious examples of this. They remind us that yes, growing up is hard. Emerging from youth into adulthood is awkward, glorious, terrible and everything in between. While critics may crow about The Catcher in the Rye, we pick stories that share the female perspective on what it means to go from girl to woman…
There’s no better title to capture the burgeoning changes that adulthood brings than Little Women. How many times have you argued with your family and friends about whether you are a Meg, Jo, Beth or Amy? The March Sisters move from their girlhood into adult life learning all those messy, broken hardships and beautiful moments that come with such a journey.
My Brilliant Friend
Elena Ferrante dresses nothing up in the beautiful four-part saga My Brilliant Friend. Stark realism, dreams, escapism, the patriarchy, classism and post war Naples - the stage is set for something truly emotionally raw to take place. Following the complicated and nuanced friendship of Lila and Elena for over a decade, you will truly feel as though you have been pulled into another world.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s fourth book weaves together a thousand threads as it tackles a tale of what it is to be a black woman in America, Nigeria, and the UK in the 21st century. Dealing with themes of migration, race, gender, and Americanization – this sharp as a tack novel paints an exceptional picture of trying to find your place in a life that spans decades, continents, and cultural divides.
To Kill a Mockingbird
A timeless classic, To Kill a Mockingbird is perhaps one of the most beloved books on library shelves across the world. Harper Lees heartbreaking story follows Scout as she tries to get a grasp on race and justice in the Deep South of the USA. It’s a tale that captures huge themes of loss of innocence, explorations of human morality, and smaller themes like just trying to be brave and stand up for what’s right.
A glorious memoir that takes the format of a comic strip, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s story on what it is to be a girl growing up in Tehran during those years of political upheaval. Powerful, personal, and of course – political, it’s a story that reminds us that young girls can be pillars of unshakeable strength, but of course -they shouldn’t have to be.
Oranges are Not the Only Fruit
Jeanette Winterson’s novel is another that consistently makes the best coming of age book lists and for good reason. A beautifully wound tale of a young lesbian girl growing up in a religious Pentecostal church makes for spellbinding reading. As if adolescence wasn’t hard enough.
Which of these timeless page-turners is on your list? Share your favorite coming of age tales in the comments.