Coming-of-Age Novels That should GRAB your attention!
Broken Spokes by Arlene R. O'Neil
Broken Spokes is more than a well-written, interesting read. It is an inspirational collection of the memories of a courageous child who, in spite of physical and emotional suffering, grew into a compassionate, loving and valiant woman.
Crippled at age six, the author begins an odyssey which will consume her entire life. Through her sufferings, she finds a way to heal others, and in doing so, saves herself.
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories ? particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esme ? With Love and Squalor, will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is fully of children. The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
In what is widely hailed as the best of his many novels, Charles Bukowski details the long, lonely years of his own hardscrabble youth in the raw voice of alter ego Henry Chinaski. From a harrowingly cheerless childhood in Germany through acne-riddled high school years and his adolescent discoveries of alcohol, women, and the Los Angeles Public Library's collection of D. H. Lawrence, Ham on Rye offers a crude, brutal, and savagely funny portrait of an outcast's coming-of-age during the desperate days of the Great Depression.
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon
Chabon’s sensational debut novel: the coming-of-age story of Art Bechstein, a recent graduate whose life is forever changed by one sultry summer
Art Bechstein may be too young to know what he wants to do with his life, but he knows what he doesn’t want: the life of his father, a man who laundered money for the mob. Bechstein spends the summer after his graduation from a Pittsburgh university searching for his future and finding his own sort of trouble with brilliant and seductive new friends—erudite, unscrupulous Arthur Lecomte, mercurial Phlox, and Cleveland, a poetry-reciting biker.
Insightful and energetic, The Mysteries of Pittsburg beautifully renders the hard edges of a blue-collar city and the charm of its local characters.
This ebook features a biography of the author.
Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin
“Mountain,” Baldwin said, “is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else.” Go Tell It On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin's first major work, a novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.
Fuckness by Andersen Prunty
This darkly offbeat novel opens with the narrator, Wallace Black, as the target of the school bully’s violence. After suffering a horrendous beating, Black goes home to his equally abusive family. As a punishment for fighting at school, his mother straps a set of grotesque horns to the top of his head. He is unsure of where the horns came from. They have always been in the house. And they contain a power no one could have expected.
Let Andersen Prunty (ZEROSTRATA, MORNING IS DEAD, and THE BEARD) guide you through a sometimes hilarious, sometimes violent and terrifying coming-of-age Midwestern gothic novel.
The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr
The dazzling, prizewinning, wickedly funny tale of Mary Karr’s hardscrabble Texas childhood—the book that sparked a renaissance in memoir
When it was published in 1995, Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club took the world by storm and raised the art of the memoir to an entirely new level, as well as bringing about a dramatic revival of the form. Karr’s comic childhood in an east Texas oil town brings us characters as darkly hilarious as any of J. D. Salinger’s—a hard-drinking daddy, a sister who can talk down the sheriff at twelve, and an oft-married mother whose accumulated secrets threaten to destroy them all. Now with a new introduction that discusses her memoir’s impact on her family, this unsentimental and profoundly moving account of an apocalyptic childhood is as “funny, lively, and un-put-downable” (USA Today) today as it ever was.
This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff
This unforgettable memoir, by one of our most gifted writers, introduces us to the young Toby Wolff, by turns tough and vulnerable, crafty and bumbling, and ultimately winning. Separated by divorce from his father and brother, Toby and his mother are constantly on the move, yet they develop an extraordinarily close, almost telepathic relationship. As Toby fights for identity and self-respect against the unrelenting hostility of a new stepfather, his experiences are at once poignant and comical, and Wolff does a masterful job of re-creating the frustrations and cruelties of adolescence. His various schemes - running away to Alaska, forging checks, and stealing cars - lead eventually to an act of outrageous self-invention that releases him into a new world of possibility.
I Never Liked You by Chester Brown
In one of the best graphic novels published in recent years, Chester Brown tells the story of his alienated youth in an almost detached, understated manner, giving the book an eerie, dream-like quality. For the new 2002 definitive softcover edition Brown has designed new layouts for the entire book, using "white" panel backgrounds instead of the black pages of the first edition.
Another Day in Paradise by Eddie Little
This debut novel - slick, raw, searing - of Eddie Little: ex-addict, ex-con, natural-born writer. It's the graphic first-person story of Bobbie, an adolescent petty thief whose lonely life among the flotsam of America is a hellish mix of hustle, drug highs, sex, and survivor humor. Bobbie finds himself willingly apprenticed to Mel, a brilliant professional crook and drug addict, in search of the perfect score in an incredible odyssey of high-time burglary and the extremities of violence that carries them to Chicago, Southern California, and Indianapolis. And all the time he is learning from Mel, Bobbie is sinking deeper into an addict's fiery hell. Bobbie is in love with his seventeen-year-old Latina girlfriend, Rosie, with her elfin chip-toothed smile. And he's not above learning life's lessons from picaresque characters like Mel's down-to-earth girl, Syd; Reverend James Cook, born-again, Southern-cracker gun dealer; and the tersely philosophical, ex-Black Muslim drug runner, Ben. Can Bobbie survive the rush, the risks, and the enemies he has made along the way?
Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter
Don Carpenter’s Hard Rain Falling is a tough-as-nails account of being down and out, but never down for good—a Dostoyevskian tale of crime, punishment, and the pursuit of an ever-elusive redemption. The novel follows the adventures of Jack Levitt, an orphaned teenager living off his wits in the fleabag hotels and seedy pool halls of Portland, Oregon. Jack befriends Billy Lancing, a young black runaway and pool hustler extraordinaire. A heist gone wrong gets Jack sent to reform school, from which he emerges embittered by abuse and solitary conﬁnement. In the meantime Billy has joined the middle class—married, fathered a son, acquired a business and a mistress. But neither Jack nor Billy can escape their troubled pasts, and they will meet again in San Quentin before their strange double drama comes to a violent and revelatory end.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath's shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity
Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.