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Coming of Age Novel List
Twentieth Century Literature and Beyond
Abani, Chris
Born into poverty in the chaotic capital city of Nigeria, Elvis is tempted by the underworld and
enters a life of crime, encountering beggars, musicians, and American pop culture as he tries to
survive in postcolonial Nigeria.
Agee, James
A Death in the Family
On a sultry summer night in 1915, Jay Follet leaves his house in Knoxville, Tennessee, to tend to
his father, whom he believes is dying. The summons turns out to be a false alarm, but on his way back to
his family Jay has a car accident and is killed instantly. Agee dances back and forth in time and braiding
the viewpoints of Jay's wife, brother, and young son, Rufus.
Alcott, Louisa May
Little Women
Little Women chronicles the joys and sorrows of the four March sisters -- practical Meg, tomboy
Jo, sweet Beth and young Amy -- who live in genteel poverty with their mother Marmee, while their
father is away in the Civil War.
Allison, Dorothy
Bastard Out of Carolina
Set in the rural South, this tale centers around the Boatwright family, a proud and close-knit
clan known for their drinking, fighting, and womanizing. Nicknamed Bone by her Uncle Earle, Ruth Anne
is the bastard child of Anney Boatwright, who has fought tirelessly to legitimize her child. When she
marries Glen, a man from a good family, it appears that her prayers have been answered. However, he
develops a contentious relationship with Bone which causes a rift in the family.
Alvarez, Julia
How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
In the 1960s, political tension forces the Garcia family away from Santo Domingo and towards
the Bronx. The sisters all hit their strides in America, adapting and thriving despite cultural differences,
language barriers, and prejudice. But Mami and Papi are more traditional, and they have far more
difficulty adjusting to their new country. Making matters worse, the girls--frequently embarrassed by
their parents--find ways to rebel against them.
Anderson, Laurie Halse
Fever 1793
In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns
about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow
fever epidemic.
Angelou, Maya
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
The author's memoir of growing up black in the 1930's and 1940's.
Atwood, Margaret
Cat’s Eye
When Elaine Risley returns to her hometown, Toronto, for a retrospective show of her paintings,
she finds more than critical acclaim. Local streets, long-gone landmarks, and elements in the paintings
themselves trigger memories of her transient childhood traveling across Canada with her entomologist
father; of adolescence marred by the cruel teasing of three friends; and of love affairs with her first art
teacher and mentor, and with Jon, her first husband. In addition, Elaine is haunted by thoughts of her
chief tormentor/best friend, Cordelia, whom she last saw years ago in a mental institution.
Atwood, Margaret
The Handmaid’s Tale
A look at the near future presents the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead,
once the United States, an oppressive world where women are no longer allowed to read and are valued
only as long as they are viable for reproduction.
Nothing but the Truth
A ninth-grader's suspension for singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" during homeroom
becomes a national news story.
Ballard, J.G
Empire of The Sun
Jim, an eleven-year-old British schoolboy, lives in Shanghai in 1941. He relates his experiences
which include three years spent in Lunghus, a Japanese prison camp, before being reunited with his
parents and returning to England.
Bellow, Saul
The Adventures of Augie March
The Adventures of Augie March blends street language with literary elegance to tell
the story of a poor Chicago boy growing up during the Great Depression. A "born recruit,"
Augie makes himself available for hire by plungers, schemers, risk takers, and operators,
compiling a record of choices that is—to say the least— eccentric.
Bowen, Elizabeth
The Death Of The Heart
The Death of the Heart is the story of an orphaned sixteen-year-old girl, Portia, whose halfbrother and his wife reluctantly take her into their luxurious but emotionally sterile London home after
the deaths of her parents. Portia is lost in Thomas and Anna Quayne’s world so she seeks solace and
love in Eddie, Anna’s ne’er-do-well friend and protégé. Innocence and naiveté are a challenge to the
Quaynes and their friends, who find her eagerness to fit in and her keen observations unsettling.
Bradbury, Ray
Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which book paper burns. Fahrenheit 451 is a novel set in
the (perhaps near) future when "firemen" burn books forbidden by a totalitarian "brave new world"
regime. The hero, according to Mr. Bradbury, is "a book burner who suddenly discovers that books are
flesh-and-blood ideas and cry out silently when put to the torch."
Bradbury, Ray
Something Wicked This Way Comes
A memorable story of two boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, and the evil that grips
their small Midwestern town with the arrival of a "dark carnival" one Autumn midnight. How these two
innocents, both age 13, save the souls of the town (as well as their own), makes for compelling reading
on timeless themes. What would you do if your secret wishes could be granted by the mysterious
ringmaster Mr. Dark? Bradbury excels in revealing the dark side that exists in us all, teaching us
ultimately to celebrate the shadows rather than fear them.
Bridal, Tessa
The Tree Of Red Stars
Magdalena, a young Uruguayan woman of wealth and position living in Europe, tells her story in
a series of flashbacks starting with her childhood in Montevideo. When she and her friends are 15, they
hear Che Guevara address a rally at the university, and the direction of their lives is changed forever.
After a year of school in the United States, Magdalena returns home and works openly for the USIA, but
secretly for the Tupamaro rebel group.
Burgess, Anthony
A Clockwork Orange
Set in a dismal dystopia, it is the first-person account of a juvenile delinquent who undergoes
state-sponsored psychological rehabilitation for his aberrant behavior. The novel satirizes extreme
political systems that are based on opposing models of the perfectibility or incorrigibility of humanity.
Alex, the protagonist, has a passion for classical music and is a member of a vicious teenage gang that
commits random acts of brutality. Captured and imprisoned, he is transformed through behavioral
conditioning into a model citizen, but his taming also leaves him defenseless.
Burns, Olive Ann
Cold Sassy Tree
Grandpa Blakeslee marries a young milliner just three weeks after Granny Blakeslee has
gone to her reward. Young Will is boggled by this act but becomes the newlyweds' conspirator
and confidant; meanwhile he does some growing up on his own.
Card, Orson Scott
Ender's Game
Aliens have attacked Earth twice and almost destroyed the human species. To make sure
humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses and
then training them in the arts of war. The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of 'games'.
Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games.
Carroll, Lewis
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
This fascinating book is about an adventurous and curious girl named Alice who follows a "White
Rabbit" and mistakenly falls into a long, long hole. When she lands she is in an amazing new land called
Wonderland, a world of crazy ideas and unfamiliar rhymes. In the end Alice discovers something truly
Cather, Willa
A Lost Lady
A portrait of a woman who reflects the conventions of her age even as she defies
them and whose transformations embody the decline and coarsening of the American
Cormier, Robert
Chocolate War
A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the
school's annual fund raising drive and arousing the wrath of the school bullies.
Cormier, Robert
I Am the Cheese
A young boy desperately tries to unlock his past yet knows he must hide those memories if he is
to remain alive.
Courtenay, Bryce
The Power of One
Follows Peekay, a white British boy in South Africa during World War II, between the
ages of five and eleven, as he survives an abusive boarding school and goes on to succeed in life
and the boxing ring, with help from a chicken, a boxer, a pianist, black African prisoners, and
many others.
Crane, Stephen
The Red Badge of Courage
During his service in the Civil War, a young Union soldier matures to manhood and finds peace
of mind as he comes to grips with his conflicting emotions about war.
Crutcher, Chris
Crazy Horse Electric Game
A high school athlete, frustrated at being handicapped after an accident, runs away from
home and is helped back to mental and physical health by a black benefactor and the people in a
special school where he enrolls.
Crutcher, Chris
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
The daily class discussions about the nature of man, the existence of God, abortion,
organized religion, suicide and other contemporary issues serve as a backdrop for a high-school
senior's attempt to answer a friend's dramatic cry for help.
Dickens, Charles
Nicholas Nickleby
Nicholas becomes the head of the family when his father dies unexpectedly. Keeping
watch over his mother and his sister Kate becomes an even greater challenge when Nicholas
discovers that his father lost the family fortune due to ill-advised investments. Without a shilling
to his name, Nicholas turns to his wealthy but unforgiving Uncle Ralph for help.
Dorris, Michael
A Yellow Raft in Blue Water
This book follows three generations of Indian women beset by hardships and torn by angry
secrets, yet inextricably bound together by the indissoluble bonds of kinship.
Fast, Howard
April Morning
The story of one day in the life of a young American boy in colonial Lexington, the
day on which he joined the militia and saw his father shot down by the British.
Flagg, Fannie
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café
Cleo Threadgood, 86, shares a lifetime of memories of Whistle Stop, Alabama where the social
scene centered on its one café with Evelyn Couch, a younger woman who is looking for meaning in her
Gibbons, Kaye
Ellen Foster
Having suffered abuse and misfortune for much of her life, a young child searches for a better
life and finally gets a break in the home of a loving woman with several foster children.
With only her own wit and courage--and the occasional kindness of others, to help her through, that
she does, in fact, survive her childhood and even rise above it is the book's bittersweet victory.
Guest, Judith
Ordinary People
After spending eight months in a mental institution following a suicide attempt,
seventeen-year-old Conrad returns home and finds that he must rebuild his life.
Haley, Alex
Roots: The Story of An American Family
A black American traces his family's origins back to the African who was brought to America as a
slave in 1767.
Hinton, S.E
That Was then, This Is Now
Sixteen-year-old Mark and Bryon have been like brothers since childhood, but now, as their
involvement with girls, gangs, and drugs increases, their relationship seems to gradually disintegrate.
Hinton, S.E
The Outsiders
The struggle of three brothers to stay together after their parent's death and their quest for
identity among the conflicting values of their adolescent society.
Huxley, Aldous
Brave New World
Six hundred years into the future, humans are bred by cloning, and "mother" and "father" are
forbidden words. Originally published in 1932, Huxley's terrifying vision of a controlled and emotionless
future "Utopian" society is truly startling in its prediction of modern scientific and cultural phenomena,
including test-tube babies and rampant drug abuse.
Irving, John
A Prayer for Owen Meany
An eleven-year-old boy, Owen Meany, hits a foul ball that kills his best friend's mother during a
Little League game in 1953.
James, Henry
The Wings of the Dove
The Wings of the Dove is an indelible take on the tragic love triangle in which two
poor yet ardent lovers seduce a dying woman in the hope that she will leave them her
Joyce, James
A Portrait of the Artist As a Young man
The story of the childhood and youth of an Irish poet-scholar, Stephen Dedalus, who questions
his Catholic faith as he reaches manhood in turn-of-the 20th Century Dublin.
Keyes, Daniel
Flowers for Algernon
Mentally retarded Charlie Gordon participates in an experiment which turns him into a genius
but only temporarily.
Kidd, Sue Monk
The Secret Life of Bees
After her "stand-in mother," a bold black woman named Rosaleen, insults the three biggest
racists in town, Lily Owens joins Rosaleen on a journey to Tiburon, South Carolina, where they are taken
in by three black, bee-keeping sisters.
Kingsolver, Barbara
The Poisonwood Bible
The drama of a U.S. missionary family in Africa during a war of decolonization, at its center is
Nathan Price, a self-righteous Baptist minister who establishes a mission in a village in 1959 Belgian
Congo. The resulting clash of cultures is seen through the eyes of his wife and his four daughters. By the
author of Pigs in Heaven.
Kosinski, Jerzy
The Painted Bird
A harrowing story that follows the wanderings of a boy abandoned by his parents during World
War II, this classic novel, originally published in 1965, is a dark masterpiece that examines the proximity
of terror and savagery to innocence and love. It is the first, and the most famous, novel by one of the
most important and original writers of this century.
Lipsyte, Robert
The Contender
Alfred Brooks is a 17 year old of Harlem, New York who works at a dead-end grocery store job.
He finds himself in Donatelli's Gym after trying to hide from some street punks. His goal in life is to
become a champion at the gym and takes in words of wisdom by Mr. Donatelli (his trainer), and
eventually becomes a more disciplined and well-rounded person with the help of many newly made
friends. He learns confidence in the face of danger, respect, and that it's the effort, not the win, that
makes the man.
Llewellyn, Richard
How Green Was My Valley
A man looks back on his life as a boy in a small Welsh mining town. His reminiscences reveal the
disintegration of his closely knit family, while capturing the sentiments and issues of their time.
Lowry, Lois
The Giver
A growing attachment between fifteen-year-old Mary McNeal and her homeroom teacher tests
her character and proves her maturity.
Martel, Yann
Life of Pi
Possessing encyclopedia-like intelligence, unusual zookeeper's son Pi Patel sets sail for America,
but when the ship sinks, he escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals
until only he and a hungry Bengal tiger remain.
Maugham, Somerset
Of Human Bondage
The story of the first 30 years of Philip Carey’s life: Living with and Aunt and Uncle, an English
boarding school, a German University, a colony of artistic failures in Paris, a dreary business in London,
and a hospital on the English coast, as well as how his physical handicap affects Philip’s relationships.
McCullers, Carson
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
At this novel’s center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who becomes the confidant for various types
of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s. Each one yearns for escape from small town life.
When Singer's mute companion goes insane, Singer moves into the Kelly house, where Mick Kelly, the
book's heroine finds solace in her music.
Monroe, Mary Alice
Sweetgrass is a historical tract of land in South Carolina that has been home to the Blakely
family for eight generations. But Sweetgrass -- named for the indigenous grass that grows in the area -is in trouble. Bulldozers are leveling surrounding properties, and the Blakelys could be forced to sell the
one thing that continues to hold their disintegrating family together. For some of the Blakelys, the
prospect of selling Sweetgrass is bittersweet -- for others, it is completely unimaginable. But as they find
the strength to stay and fight, they realize that their bond as a family is all they need to stay together.
Morrison, Toni
Song Of Solomon
This novel takes readers into a magical and richly peopled world which encompasses four
generations of African American life.
Morrison, Toni
The Bluest Eye
The Bluest Eye is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. A black girl in an America whose
love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others, who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so
that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different.
Munro, Alice
Lives of Girls and Women
Lives of Girls and Women is the intensely readable, touching, and very funny story of Del Jordan,
a young woman who journeys from the carelessness of childhood through an uneasy adolescence in
search of love and sexual experience. As Del dreams of becoming famous, suffers embarrassment about
her mother, endures the humiliation of her body's insistent desires, and tries desperately to fall in love,
she grapples with the crises that mark the passage to womanhood.
Myers, Walter Dean
Fallen Angels
This 1989 Coretta Scott King Award winner is the story of one young man's tour of duty
in Vietnam as well as a testament to the thousands of young people who lived and died during the war.
Nexo,Martin Anderson
Pelle the Conqueror
This is a story of a Swedish father and his son who travel to Denmark in search of a new life. As
their boat lands, Lasse tells his young son "You're still young. You can conquer the world"--words he will
always remember.
Orwell, George
Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows
more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political
satirist George Orwell's nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff's
attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell's prescience of modern life--the
ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language--and his ability to construct such a thorough version
of hell.
Parks, Gordon
The Learning Tree
A black youth in a small town in Kansas finds himself the only witness to a murder.
Peck, Robert Newton
A Day No Pigs Would Die
To a thirteen-year-old Vermont farm boy whose father slaughters pigs for a living, maturity
comes early as he learns "doing what's got to be done," especially regarding his pet pig who cannot
produce a litter.
Potok, Chaim
The Chosen
This novel recounts the story of Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders--one an orthodox Jew, the
other the son of a Hasidic rabbi--and the course of their friendship as they grow up in Brooklyn.
Potok, Chaim
Davita’s Harp
For Davita Chandal, growing up in the New York of the 1930s and '40s is an
experience of joy and sadness. Her loving parents, both fervent radicals, fill her with the
fiercely bright hope of a new and better world. But as the deprivations of war and
depression take a ruthless toll, Davita unexpectedly turns to the Jewish faith that her
mother had long ago abandoned, finding there both a solace for her questioning inner pain
and a test of her budding spirit of independence.
Silko, Leslie Marmon
Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and
the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo
reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. Tayo's quest for comfort and
resolution leads him back to the Indian past and its traditions, to beliefs about witchcraft and evil, and to
the ancient stories of his people. The search itself becomes a ritual, a curative ceremony that defeats
the most virulent of afflictions-despair.
Sinclair, Upton
The Jungle
The horrifying conditions of the Chicago stockyards are revealed through this narrative of a
young immigrant's struggles in America.
Smith, Betty
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Encouraged by her idealistic, if luckless father, a bright and imaginative young woman comes of
age in a Brooklyn tenement during the early 1900s.
Stevenson, Robert Louis
The adventures of a sixteen-year-old orphan who was kidnapped by his villainous uncle
but later escaped and became involved in the struggle of the Scottish highlanders against English
Stevenson, Robert Louis
Treasure Island
While going through the possessions of a deceased guest who owed them money, the mistress
of the inn and her son find a treasure map that leads to a pirate fortune as well as great danger.
Swarthout, Glendon
Bless the Beasts and Children
While at Box Canyon Boys Camp, a group of disturbed boys search for a way to improve their
Tan, Amy
The Joy Luck Club
In 1949, four Chinese women--drawn together by the shadow of their past--begin meeting in
San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks and "say" stories. They call their gathering the Joy Luck
Club--and forge a relationship that binds them for more than three decades.
Tarkington, Booth
The Magnificent Ambersons
The Magnificent Ambersons is the epic story of an American family's traumatic tumble from the
dizzying heights of fame and fortune. A dynasty spanning three generations, the Ambersons' preeminence as society's elite is threatened -- not only by a hungry new breed of industrial entrepreneur -but from its own arrogance and greed. At the center of the story is George Amberson Minafer, the
pampered but pitiful, scion of the clan upon whose shoulders the fate of the family fortune will be
won...or lost. At once an exciting chronicle of a family's rise to fortune and its tortured downfall, it is also
a fascinating portrait of the forces that shaped American society.
Verne, Jules
Journey to the Center of the Earth
What a stunning discovery: an old, coded note that actually contains directions for reaching the
Earth’s very core! And once he finds it, renowned geologist Professor Liedenbrock can’t resist setting out
with his 16-year-old nephew to go where only one man has gone before. Jules Verne takes young
readers on one of the most incredible journeys ever imagined, from Iceland’s frozen tundra far down
into fantastic underground prehistoric worlds and back up again through the fires of an erupting
Walker, Alice
The Color Purple
Set in the period between the world wars, this novel tells of two sisters, their trials, and their
Warren, Robert Penn
All the King's Men
Set in the 1930s, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel traces the rise and fall of Willie Stark, who
resembles the real life Huey "Kingfish" Long of Louisiana.
Wouk, Herman
The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II
A story of a mutiny aboard a U.S. naval vessel during World War II.
Wright, Richard
Black Boy
Wright's unforgettable and eloquent autobiography of growing up in the Jim Crow South offers
an unsurpassed portrait of the struggles against the ingrained racism and poverty faced by African
Yezierska, Anzia
Bread Givers
A young Jewish girl from New York's Lower East Side rebels against the tyranny and chauvinism
of her immigrant father, determined to assert her freedom and independence.
Zindel, Paul
The Pigman
A teenage boy and a girl, high school sophomores from unhappy homes, tell of their bizzare
relationship with an old man.