I think of spring’s approach, my mind turns to “Coming of Age” novels.
I love reading these stories—youth discovering their wings and edging
closer to leaving the nest. Usually these stories contain common
• Independence. Protagonists
discover their voice and learn to express opinions. This often leaves
them at odds with someone in their family, school, church, or community.
• Love. Often the romantic element includes obstacles. COA stories are
never smooth sailing because life lessons are learned when navigating
• Conflict. When we hear the word angst, we often
add the word teenage in front of it. Tension and
resolution are typically woven through the story.
• Choice. Young people learn that part of growing up is making hard
decisions. COA novels show the main character growing stronger while
deliberating serious options and consequences.
Two of my favorite Coming-of-Age
Calloway Summer Series
Fireflies in December,
Cottonwood Whispers, and Catching Moondrops
Author: Jennifer Erin Valent
Publisher: Tyndale House
Jennifer Erin Valent won the
2010 Christy Award for Fireflies. Words paint the
story of Jessilyn
Lassiter, a young girl whose world is torn apart in the 1930s. We see
loss, KKK conflict, and what friendship looks like underneath skin
color. The opening of the story involves Jessilyn being rescued by a
newcomer to the community. This stranger becomes a familiar part of the
family as we read through the entire series. I fell in love with
Jessilyn’s spunk and insights, and laughed at her love-life struggles.
Author Jennifer Erin Valent has a way of immersing the reader into the
story, like we’re eyewitnesses to all that’s going on. I found myself
wanting to fight Jessilyn’s battles right along with her!
Watching the Tree Limbs
and Wishing on Dandelions
Author: Mary DeMuth
Mary DeMuth has written several
excellent books, but when I think of Coming-of-Age novels, my mind goes
to her Maranatha Series. As I cracked open Tree Limbs,
transported to the east Texas setting and was quickly drawn into
life. The story exposes the ugliness of rape,
poverty, and prejudice, while extolling the opportunities for healing
and redemption. Even though both books cover dark subject matter, there
are also warm fuzzy moments and even humor interjected to let the heart
experience different emotions. In Dandelions we see
Mara growing up,
learning to cope with a crazy new mother figure, and realizing that
falling in love is never easy or predictable.
Chasing Lilacs by
Carla Stewart (Faith Words)
June Bug by Chris
Fabry (Tyndale House)
While We’re Far Apart by
Lynn Austin (Bethany House)
Select a Coming-of-Age Novel to read this spring. Ask yourself these
questions as you read:
1. What strengths do I admire in the main character?
2. Name some of the struggles dealt with in the storyline.
3. What discoveries about myself surface as I read this story?