Sarah (not our Sarah) is looking for some novels that tell a good coming of age tale.
This is one of our favorite themes, though we were a bit stumped on finding some that are also ’50s, ’60s or ’70s period novels. But it sure was hard to choose just a few to recommend! Sarah filled out our extremely scientific Book Matchmaker Questionnaire and here are her responses:
YA or Adult: Surprise Me
Genres: Contemporary, Historical, Romance
POV/Narrative Style: First Person, Third Person, Multiple POV, Present Tense, Past Tense, Male POV, Main Character or Narrator, Female POV, Main Character or Narrator
Turn-ons/Likes: Easy by Tammara Webber, Summer Sisters by Judy Blume, The Romantics by Galt Nierderhoffer.
Coming of Age is a favorite theme. Also period novels set in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.”
Turnoffs/Dislikes: None that I can think of…
Swoon Factor: 5
Gross Out Factor: 2
Smut Factor: 5
Fluff Factor: 3
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
My brain is like a water faucet that I can turn on or off. Only now there is no off and the water of thoughts just flows.
Rebeca aka Renegade suggests Francisco X. Stork’s (what a cool name!) YA novel about a 17-year old boy with a mild Autism-like condition who spends his first summer in the “real world” outside his specialized school. There’s a strong theme of self-discovery and the point-of-view is distinctive.
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Comfort zones are overrated. They make you lazy.
Continuing our tradition of recommending Melina Marchetta to everyone, Saving Francesca is one of the best coming of age novels I’ve read. Marchetta just nails so much about the experience of growing up, but is never cloying or trite. We all love these flawed, compelling Australian teens and consider it a must-read, along with The Piper’s Son, the companion novel.
Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford
“Good night, Maiden Who Walks Like a Duck.”
“Good night, Warrior Who Chickens Out at the Least Sign of Trouble.”
So, a couple weeks ago, I was chatting with Judy Freaking Blume on Twitter about books set in New Mexico (my favorite book of hers, Tiger Eyes, is set there), and she reminded me of Richard Bradford’s Red Sky at Morning, which is a classic coming-of-age story of the American West. It’s set during World War II, and has incredibly witty dialogue. Plus, it’s recommended by the Queen of Coming of Age Stories, Judy Freaking Blume. (I really need to re-read this one.)
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
“Perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring.”
I smile. “You don’t think I’m perfect?”
“No. You’re delightfully screwy, and I wouldn’t have you any other way.”
My love for both of Stephanie Perkin’s young adult romances knows no bounds, and I have a hard time deciding is Anna or Lola is my favorite (right now it’s Anna because I just reread and fell in love all over again). But I’m recommending Lola because I suspect from Sarah’s preferences that she likes characters that are a smidgen challenging—and Lola has that quality in spades. Cricket, the boy next door, is quirky and charming and nerdy and it all just works.
Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker
“You look beautiful,” says Russ. And it’s the simple sentence that you think will mean nothing, because maybe your mom has said it to you a thousand times, or your best friend says it when your’re having insecure moment about your outfit. But it’s not like that—it’s completely different when a guy says it. I didn’t know that until this moment, because it’s the first time a guy has ever said it to me. Three words just gave me goose bumps, and I feel like a girly girl for a second.
Melissa Walker’s Lovestruck Summer is one of those, “I know I just read you, but I think this might be true love,” sort of books. It’s usually missing from “new adult” novel lists, but it definitely fits all the criteria. It takes place over a summer in Austin in which the main character (a music-obsessed recent high school grad) lives with her college-age cousin near the University of Texas campus and experiences her first taste of real independence. It’s witty and sweet and a perfect summer read. Can you tell I’m in love?
Help us out! What would you recommend to someone who loves coming of age stories and mid-century settings? I was thinking Judy Blundell, but none of us have read her books.