5 Coming-of-Age Stories to Celebrate Spring

By Lorraine Boissoneault

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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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