5 Coming-of-Age Stories to Celebrate Spring

By Lorraine Boissoneault


The birds are chirping, the buds are blooming, the sun is shining, the snow flurries strike the day after it reaches 70 degrees – it’s all part of a typical Midwestern spring where you can have four seasons in a single day. To celebrate the joy and occasional tempestuousness of spring, we looked through our libraries for five of the best coming-of-age stories that will appeal to adult readers. Be it comedy, tragedy, or enlightenment, there’s something for everyone in these stories.


  • Black Swan Green, David Mitchell: Jason Taylor lives in the drowsy village of Black Swan Green in Cold War England, dealing with girls, poetry, death, and family drama on top of a stammer he’s trying desperately to hide. Beautifully written, insightful, and sure to bring you back to early teenage days.
  • The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath: Plath’s only novel tells the dark story of Esther Greenwood, a successful college graduate whose struggle with depression derails all her happy prospects. Not an easy read, but an essential one about mental illness and entering the world of adulthood.
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz: Nerdy, overweight Oscar de Léon learns to navigate life in New Jersey, the history of the Dominican Republic, and his family’s curse. In the process he grows a little older, a little wiser, and a lot more confident.
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbary: What do you get when you combine a precocious Parisian girl with the concierge who oversees the elegant apartment building this girl’s family lives in? Plenty of philosophy, emotional growth, and chocolate. A book to be read slowly, and repeatedly.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman: Somewhere between fantasy and reality, adventure and horror, this book unearths all the tension between childhood and adulthood. A great read for fans of Gaiman’s earlier work and newcomers alike.

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