10 January 2020

5 Coming-of-Age Stories to Read This Month

When deciding which books to add to your reading list, are there themes, genres, or settings you just can't say no to? One of mine is coming-of-age stories. I love following a character as he or she transitions from innocence to reality. There is something about the arc of personal growth that appeals to me, whether the protagonist is a child, a teen, or an adult.

If you're like me, then January is going to be a great month. Here are five books with coming-of-age elements that made it onto my teetering book stack. I hope you plan to add at least one to your own reading list.

review of The Truants by Kate WeinbergThe Truants by Kate Weinberg (Putnam, Jan. 28) follows the transformation of Jess, a small town girl who discovers diversity through the friends she makes freshman year at a college in East Anglia. Although billed primarily as a thriller with literary themes (Agatha Christie looms large), this is also a story of how little we really know about other people and what happens when we begin to see them without our rose-colored glasses. First lines:

It’s hard to say who I fell in love with first. Because it was love, I think you’ll agree, when I’ve finished telling you.
Audiobook: Read by Olivia Dowd (Penguin Audio; 9 hr, 36 min)

review of The Girls with No Names by Serena BurdickThe Girls with No Names by Serena Burdick (Park Row, Jan. 7) is set in New York just over a hundred years ago. Two sisters from a well-off family hardly notice the girls living in the nearby anything-but House of Mercy for the wayward, until the older Luella disappears. Young Effie checks herself into the House of Mercy to look for her sister, only to find that she's alone and that life isn't full of fun for everyone living in the city. First lines:
I lay with my cheek pressed to the floor, the cement cool against my spent rage. I’d screamed. I’d bitten and scratched. Now I was paying for it, but I didn’t care. I’d do it again.
Audiobook: Read by Emily Lawrence, Nancy Peterson, and Amy McFadden (Harlequin Audio; 12 hr, 24 min)

reivew of The God Game by Danny TobeyThe God Game by Danny Tobey (St. Martin's Press, Jan. 7) is a mix of techno-thriller and mystery as a group of nerdy high school seniors discover a cool game hidden in back reaches of the internet. The more involved they get with the game, the more powerful the consequences, until at least one of them has to begin to balance AI with reality and deal with issues of theology, ethics, and friendship. First lines:
The blue light of the computer screen was flickering on Charlie’s and Peter’s faces, making them look like astronauts lit by the cosmos.
Audiobook: Read by Andrew Eiden (Macmillan Audio; 13 hr, 31 min)

review of Creatures by Crissy Van MeterCreatures by Crissy Van Meter (Algonquin, Jan. 7) begins as a young women prepares for her wedding on an island off the coast of Southern California. The story is told partly through her memories and partly in real time, as she comes to terms both with her childhood (raised by a charming though drug-dealing father) and with her present (dead whale on the beach, sudden appearance of her long-absent mother, and fisherman groom possibly lost at sea). First lines:
There is a dead whale. It rolls idly in the warm shallows of this island, among cartoonish sea animals with tentacles, suction cups, and goopy eyes.
Audiobook: Read by Piper Goodeve (Highbridge; 5 hr, 58 min)

We Wish You Luck by Caroline Zancan (Riverhead, Jan. 14) follows a trio of graduate students enrolled in a low-residency MFA writing program at a prestigious college. During one of the on-campus sessions, their famous-author advisor goes a step too far in the critique of their work, and the students are left with the stark truths of power, art, competitiveness, and love. First lines:
There is no train ride in the world prettier than the one from Penn Station to Albany. Ten of the seventeen people in our class took that train up to the first June residency.
Audiobook: Read by Kristen Sieh (Penguin Audio; 7 hr, 27 min)


rhapsodyinbooks 1/10/20, 8:07 AM  

These all sound good. I'm especially interested in The Truants, because of the setting!

Lisa notes... 1/10/20, 8:32 AM  

I love to read good coming-of-age stories. Thanks for this selection of 5 to choose from! They are all new to me.

bermudaonion 1/10/20, 11:09 AM  

I love coming of age stories and have heard We Wish You Luck is terrific.

Les in Oregon 1/10/20, 1:03 PM  

My favorite genre! Thank you for this list. The God Game really appeals to me and brings to mind Ready Player One. I'll check it out on Audible.

sherry fundin 1/10/20, 2:16 PM  

i do enjoy a good coming of age story
sherry @ fundinmental

Kathryn T 1/10/20, 3:02 PM  

Coming of age stories are really a very interesting read and as you say from innocence to reality. I hope you love them all.

Beverley Baird 1/10/20, 9:27 PM  

These all look interesting. Enjoy them all!

Jackie McGuinness 1/11/20, 11:26 AM  

I put the first three in my TBR list!

(Diane) bookchickdi 1/18/20, 7:52 AM  

I've heard good things about We Wish You Luck.

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