Coming of Age
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.
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Forever by Judy Blume
Awkward, sweet, passionate, innocent, secretive . . . 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 foundthe 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?
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13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel.
Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison
It is a funny story of a year in the life of a fourteen-year-old British girl who tries to reduce the size of her nose, stop her mad cat from terrorizing the neighborhood animals and win the love of a handsome hunk named Robbie.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
When Anna's romance-novelist father sends her to an elite American boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school, she reluctantly goes, and meets an amazing boy who becomes her best friend, in spite of the fact that they both want something more.
Bitter Melon by Cara Chow
With the encouragement of one of her teachers, a Chinese American high school senior asserts herself against her demanding, old-school mother and carves out an identity for herself in late 1980s San Francisco.
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.
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.