Our Favorite Coming of Age Books

As we both head off to college, we have some recommendations for great coming of age novels that have really helped us through high school and hopefully in going to college.

The Secret Garden
Mary never got a childhood filled with love, magic and imagination but as Mary discovers the secrets of her new home and grows as a person she teaches the reader the importance of childhood magic. Although this is not a typical coming of age book, Mary does become more mature, but more importantly for me it shows that when growing up adults do not have to say good bye to all aspects of the fun and freedom of childhood.

This is a book about Maya and her Eighth grade year where she decides to follow a 1950’s guide to being popular. Maya shows wisdom beyond her years in showing the reader and her classmates what it is to be an authentic person and to question, what is popular?

The Absolutely True Dairy of a Part Time Indian
This book is about Junior who lives on the Spokane Reservation. But he is starting high school and has decided to go to the all white high school outside of the reservation. He has to learn to stand up for himself and what he believes in. This is a great coming of age novel about having to make the difficult choices yourself. Once you are in high school, less is on your parents and you end up making the decisions yourself.

Echo is a book with three stories in it, one in Germany, one in California, and one in Pennsylvania. They take place across different times but in each story the characters are connected by a magical harmonica and have to learn what it means to be brave. Each character has drastically different family situations and they all show the importance of responsibility, trust and family.

Flying Lessons and other stories
Flying Lessons and Other Stories is a collection of short stories edited by Ellen Oh. It has 12 stories total and they are all fantastic, they are all thought provoking and stick with you. Each story presents a situation that shows growth, responsibility and courage. And each story is relatable and unique.

The Female of the Species
This is a good book about growing up because Alex doesn’t see a future for herself and only cares about avenging her sisters death. This book is very violent and has a blunt discussion of rape culture, but it is very good and teaches a great lesson about how to stand up for yourself. It also has an interesting discussion on what comes after high school and whether or not college is for everyone.

The Color Purple
This book is a very empowering book. Through the book it shows Cecile learn how to become her own person, and not the person that everyone else wants her to be. It also shows the importance of a good mentor. This is for more mature readers because of its sexual content. This book has really stuck with us as it makes a lot of very important points about feminism and defining oneself.