The Best Coming Of Age Novels

recommended by x_emma.guy_ x

Hi, I’m Emma. I absolutely love reading and studying a wide range of literature. My five books list is my top five Coming Of Age novels. All of these books are incredibly important to me as I believe every one of them has impacted my view on not only myself but also the world around me as I can relate and learn so much by reading them. I find the characters to be extremely relatable, often with both positive and negative qualities and I can build strong relationships within these fictional narratives. They also often cover incredibly important social topics such as racism, homophobia etc. and do so in an informative, educational and impactful way but are also quite approachable as these books’ target audience is often teenagers and young adults.

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    Call Me by Your Name
    by André Aciman

    To me, this book is the perfect example of a coming of age novel. Following the main character Elio Perlman, this books follows a teenage boy who during one summer in 1983 discovers much more than he'd ever imagined about love, life and family. This book is full of incredibly poetic language and has a simplistic beauty about it. The characters love intensely yet quickly and whilst this novel covers the turbulent and confusing life of being 17, it also highlights the joy and excitement of youth and learning how to grow up.

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    The Song of Achilles
    by Madeline Miller

    I'm currently re-reading this novel because I was so moved by it the first time. The Song of Achilles tells the heartbreaking love story of Achilles and Patroclus from Patroclus' point of view, something which is very rarely thought about in the Greek Iliad and myths. Again, the author uses incredible poetic language and beautiful romantic description of the setting and characters creating an idyllic world that is soon plunged into chaos. The Song of Achilles is full of tragedy and heartbreak but also looks at how even in the darkest of times, the right person can make everything okay. It is a beautiful coming of age romance and I would highly recommend that everyone reads this book.

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    The Hate U Give
    by Angie Thomas

    This coming of age novel looks at social issues rather than romance. It covers modern-day racism in an incredibly educational and impactful manner whilst also engaging young readers through strong, likeable characters and fast-moving plot lines. The Hate You Give amplifies black voices and stories, allowing a black teenage girl to tell her story about learning to speak out and use her voice to fight the racism and police brutality that her community faces daily. Angie Thomas does not shy away from this difficult topic and the book is quite a difficult read at some points due to its extremely upsetting nature however, it's an incredibly important book and I think it should be studied in secondary schools.

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    The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    by Stephen Chbosky

    This is one of the first comings of age novels I ever read. I vividly remember being struck by how relatable and imperfect pretty much all of the characters were. This book narrates the highs and lows of high school life, focusing on Charlie, a rather nervous introvert as he learns how to make friends and truly enjoy his teenage years. The book also covers more difficult personal issues in Charlie's life such as sexual abuse and trauma. It is written entirely in letters to an unknown 'friend' (the reader) and is incredibly engaging. A quote from this book that has always stuck with me is, "We accept the love we think we deserve."

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    To Kill a Mockingbird
    by Harper Lee

    Now, this is a much older coming of age novel. I only read this book a few months ago as when I tried it a few years ago I found it to be a bit too wordy and lost interest. However, now I can truly see all of the messages of this classic I believe it is one of the greatest pieces of literature. A knightly father, tomboy daughter, mysterious neighbour and personal growth, what's not to love? Furthermore, this book actively challenges racism and was written in 1960 when these ideas were extremely normalised in society and Harper Lee would have received a lot of criticism for taking this stance on racism and the treatment of black people in America.

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