Coming of Age
Rural 1950s Arkansas is the setting for John Grisham’s Southern thriller, A Painted House. It’s the beginning of a summer full of sweltering days, acres of cotton to pick, dangerous desire, and deadly secrets to keep.
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Forever by Judy Blume
Do you remember your first time? Katherine and Michael won't ever forget theirs. They were seniors in high school. Totally crazy for each other, they thought they had found the one. It was first love, and it was perfect: long talks on the phone, ski trips, and double dates when they simply couldn't wait to be alone. But was Katherine and Michael's relationship the love of a lifetime, or merely the beginning of a lifetime of love? Relive the memories in this new edition of Judy Blume's classic and beloved novel. (catalog summary)
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Alive by Chandler Baker
After finally receiving a heart transplant, seventeen-year-old Stella throws herself into her new life, but her recovery is marred with strange side effects and hallucinations, and when she meets Levi Zin, a mysterious new boy at her Seattle prep school, Stella soon realizes that she and Levi have more in common than she could ever imagine. (catalog summary)
Ivan Doig’s This House of Sky is a memoir set in the rugged, sheep-raising terrain of Montana. It was a time when the last of the small-town ranchers were on their way out, pushed along by the Great Depression and rich men buying up failed farms to add to their own.
The author’s people were not of the rich kind. They were scrappy, immigrant stock. Ivan’s grandfather came with family from Scotland. They ran sheep til their luck ran out. Then they worked for the big ranchers. Ivan’s father was a little guy, but he broke broncos—sometimes breaking his own bones doing it -- rode herd on sheep, bossed the other hands, and fell in love with a 16-year-old girl.
This One Summer is a gorgeously-crafted coming-of-age graphic novel centering around a young girl named Rose. Her family has been visiting Awago Beach for years, but this summer is different.
Rose's parents have been fighting since they arrived at the beach. Something happened there last year that neither parent wishes to address, but it looms over their heads like a cloud of unspoken malaise.
In writing, and in life, it is incredibly difficult to deviate from the paths of least resistance. The established patterns seem so easy and inviting, and it takes amazing willpower and courage to do things a different way. As a writer, Jeffrey Eugenides gracefully avoids clichés and predictability. Both of his previous books, The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex, are memorable and unnerving. In his latest novel, The Marriage Plot, Eugenides is not alone in his avoidance of formulaic archetypes. The characters themselves are engaged in a meta-struggle to reject obvious and seemingly inexorable fates.
The Marriage Plot follows the intertwined lives of three central characters: Madeleine Hanna, Mitchell Grammaticus, and Leonard Bankhead. The novel opens in 1982, on the chaotic day that is supposed to send the three of them, and the rest of the graduating class, careening into adulthood. The collective mood is characterized by anticipation: professors have pulled out their dusty robes; parents have loaded new film into their cameras. But things are not as simple or inspiring for the young people who are supposed to leave the university’s protective cloister and fend for themselves in an uncertain world.
In a reverse chronological sequence of events, Julia Alvarez takes her readers through the immigration experience of the four Garcia sisters: Carla, Sandra, Yolanda and Sofia in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. Leaving behind a life of privilege surrounded by their large extended family, the four girls move with their Papi and Mami to New York City, and begin the long, never-ending process of assimilating into American culture. The story is as much a coming of age tale as it is a feminist, Latino perspective on American culture, beautifully conveyed with a sprinkling of Spanish vocabulary here and there.
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, is one of those simple, spiritual tales that captures modern-day imaginations and becomes a best-seller. As I read it on the beach, I felt the brush of Jonathan Livingston Seagull’s wings—or perhaps those were the wings of the laughing gull trying to steal my son’s peanut butter sandwich.