Coming of Age Fiction | Los Angeles Public Library
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Coming of Age Fiction

Updated: December 28, 2015

These are stories of children, young adults, sometimes late-bloomers who achieve maturity by overcoming difficult

Townsend, Sue.
British teenager, Adrian Mole, reveals all his yearnings and inadequacies in a diary.

Ammaniti, Niccolo`, 1966-
Charles Dickens meets Sapphire meets rough times for a young person in this modern day tale of a teenager's life in Varano, Italy. Cristiano's neo-Nazi dad and several pals decide to launch the perfect robbery by running some type of vehicle into an ATM machine. Most everything goes disastrously wrong, including the life of Cristiano, the young protagonist. This is a gritty compelling story of a young person caught in a life without options. The book was awarded Italy's Strega Prize.

McEwan, Ian.

In pre-War Britain, 13-year-old Briony witnesses a flirtatious moment between her older sister and a neighbor boy. Her misunderstanding of the situation brings about a crime that will change all their lives. The book follows that crime’s repercussions in the lives of the protagonists through WW II and into the close of the twentieth century.

Breznican, Anthony.
An unflinching look at the horror that can be high school and the attempts of three students to survive their freshman year. Breznican’s debut novel is harrowing, gripping and insightful.

Ballard, J. G., 1930-2009.

Eleven-year-old Jim is torn from the comfort of his upper-class British family when Japan attacks allied warships in Shanghai on December 7, 1941. He is left to scavenge in a city left in ruins until being picked up and thrown into an internment camp with adults.

Salinger, J. D. 1919-2010.
Call Number: Ed.a
J. D. Salinger published most of his short stories in The New Yorker, from "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" in 1948 to his last published work, "Hapworth 16, 1924," which appeared in the June 19, 1965 issue. Franny and Zooey consists of two short stories published separately in the magazine, with each story about one of the members of Salinger's fictional Glass family.

Hughes, Richard Arthur Warren, 1900-1976.
Call Number: Ed.a

In nineteenth century Jamaica, a shipload of British children are being sent home to school when their ship is highjacked by pirates. What happens is unexpected and belies the innocence of childhood.

Hosseini, Khaled.

A tale of a tumultuous father-son relationship in present-day Afghanistan and the United States which reveals two family secrets.

Sillitoe, Alan.
Call Number: Ed.c
A defiant teenage boy in a British reformatory school has a talent for long-distance running which gives hope to the school's director for a great victory. However this working-class lad has his own plans for another kind of prize.

Golding, William, 1911-1993.
Call Number: Ed.c
This modern classic tackles the problem of bullying as a group of English schoolboys try to survive being stranded on an island.

McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967.
Call Number: Ed.a

12-year-old Frankie Addams feels alienated and lost, and as she struggles with her own identity assumes the name of F. Jasmine. Set in a small southern town, in the 1940s, Frankie's only close relationships are with her 6-year-old cousin, John Henry, and her family's African-American housekeeper, Berenice.

Franklin, Miles, 1879-1954.
Call Number: Ed.b

Miles Franklin's autobiographical novel is about her life as a young girl, growing up in the wilds of Australia's outback, all the while yearning for a life of art, music and literature.

Segal, Lore Groszmann.

Lore Segal’s semi-autobiographical novel is about her life as a refugee Jewish child evacuated from Austria during World War II to the relative safety of England. It is a poignant and candid reflection about a child’s displacement, and how it feels to be thrust into new surroundings, without the immediate comfort and solace of one’s own family.

Godden, Rumer, 1907-1998.

The story is set in Bengal, India, during the 1940s, where Harriet's English family lives. She is a dreamy adolescent girl who loves to write and is highly susceptible to feelings of romantic love, while the immediate world grounds her reality.  

There is also the beautiful Jean Renoir movie

Brunt, Carol Rifka
Call Number: F

Also available as an e-book and e-audibook.

After her beloved uncle dies of AIDS-related complications, fourteen-year-old June Elbus strikes up a secret friendship with his boyfriend in this heartbreaking coming of age story, set during the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

Greene, Graham, 1904-1991.
Call Number: M Ed.a

Smith, Betty, 1896-1972.
Call Number: Ed.g
The wonderful tale of Francie Nolan, a bookish little girl who was born in 1900 and grew up with the century in a poor Brooklyn tenement. Sensitive portrayals of her hard-working mother, alcoholic father and colorful aunts are offset by budding writer Francie's own deft observations of her surroundings and the way both she and they change over time. A nostalgic yet clear-eyed snapshot of America in the early twentieth century. Highly recommended.