10 Deeply Moving Coming of Age Stories

Growing up is an important part of life that everyone experiences differently. Some have a smooth transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, others are forced to grow up too early, and some never quite reach emotional maturity. We have gathered ten diverse tales that explore the concept of coming of age. When you click links from this website, we may receive advertising revenue to support our research. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

10 Deeply Moving Coming of Age Stories

Title Author More by the Author
1. Rabbit Cake Annie Hartnett N/A
2. We Are Okay Nina LaCour Everything Leads to You
3. Ten Days of Perfect Andrea Randall Reckless Abandon
4. The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko Scott Stambach N/A
5. Island of a Thousand Mirrors Nayomi Munaweera What Lies Between Us
6. Things I Should Have Known Claire LaZebnik Epic Fail
7. The Gravity of Birds Tracy Guzeman N/A
8. My Name Is Leon Kit de Waal The Trick to Time
9. Present Perfect Alison G. Bailey Past Imperfect
10. We Need New Names NoViolet Bulawayo N/A

Coming of Age Rituals in the Modern World

In Depth

Literary works about transitioning to adulthood are timeless, especially those which contain themes of psychological or moral growth. They remind us of our younger selves and the struggles we confronted. If you are looking for narratives of this genre, you can check out these ten deeply moving coming of age stories, listed in no particular order.

Starting off at #1 is "Rabbit Cake" by Annie Hartnett. A tragicomedy on grief and healing, this book tells the story of Elvis Babbit, a young girl who recently lost her mother due to a supposed drowning accident. Now, her family starts acting strangely - her older sister Lizzie is "sleep-eating," and her father is wearing his deceased wife's silk robe and lipstick. Meanwhile, Elvis does her own investigation into the real cause of the death, and decides to finish her mom's research about animal behaviors by herself.

At #2 is "We Are Okay" by Nina LaCour. This novel centers on Marin, a student who is trying to reconcile the drastic changes in her life: her grandfather's passing, her first year in college, and the revelation of her past. All of these contribute to the bout of depression she is facing alone. Enter Mabel, Marin's pal, who comes to visit her for three days. This makes things harder for the protagonist, as she attempts to suppress her feelings for her friend and the emergence of her true sexuality.

All of these contribute to the bout of depression she is facing alone.

Next, at #3 is "Ten Days of Perfect." It is the initial installment of the November Blue series written by Andrea Randall. It revolves around Ember Harris, a grant writer and child of hippie musicians. She has just recovered from a bad breakup, and is trying not to fall in love again. But one night, she encounters Bo Cavanaugh at a local pub, and sparks fly instantly. Everything is going well until Ember's ex-boyfriend Adrian returns to win her again. She is caught in a dilemma between her old flame and her new lover.

At #4 is "The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko." Penned by Scott Stambach, the plot is set in a children's hospital in Belarus. It narrates the tale of Ivan, a teenage boy who was born 18 months after a nuclear reactor exploded in Chernobyl. Just like the other babies near that area, he is brought into the world with a physical abnormality. Then he meets Polina, an orphan who has leukemia. They become best buddies and eventually fall in love.

Following at #5 is "Island of a Thousand Mirrors" by Nayomi Munaweera, which takes place during a civil war in Sri Lanka. The story is divided into two parts, each told by a different girl. The first is Yasodhara Rajasinghe, a Sinhalese woman whose family migrates to the United States to escape the carnage. But she decides to go back to her country to help those who are stranded and orphaned by the ongoing hostility. She rescues the second narrator, Saraswathi, a Tamil woman who lives in the combat zone.

The story is divided into two parts, each told by a different girl.

At #6 is "Things I Should Have Known." Written by Claire LaZebnik, the book focuses on Chloe Mitchell, a popular teenager who sets out on a mission to find a boyfriend for her autistic older sister, Ivy. She believes that Ethan Fields, a boy from Ivy's special class, is a great match for her. However, she finds his brother David quite annoying. Later on, she discovers that she has more in common with David than she realized, and an unlikely friendship is formed.

Next, at #7 is "The Gravity of Birds" by Tracy Guzeman. This novel describes the tale of Thomas Bayber, a renowned artist who has not created anything for several years. One day, he reveals a hidden painting, featuring his younger self, posing between two sisters: Natalie and Alice Kessler. Bayber discloses that the masterpiece is a portion of a triptych, and that the other parts are nowhere to be found. He enlists the help of a critic and an appraiser, to search for the Kesslers and the missing panels of his artwork.

At #8 is "My Name is Leon" by Kit de Waal. Set in Britain in the 1980s, it chronicles the life of an 8-year-old named Leon. His mother, Carol, has recently given birth to a baby boy. Although the protagonist is excited to take care of his new sibling, he also begins to notice that something is wrong with his mom. Due to the decline of her mental health, Leon's infant brother gets adopted. Leon is taken to a foster home, where he struggles to cope up with his emotional wounds.

Although the protagonist is excited to take care of his new sibling, he also begins to notice that something is wrong with his mom.

Following at #9 is "Present Perfect." Written by Alison G. Bailey, this novel centers on childhood best friends, Amanda and Noah. The pair is inseparable as they grow up together. Throughout their adolescence, the young lad becomes certain that his affection for her is more than friendship. On the other hand, the girl can not confess her feelings for him because she is scared to ruin their relationship. Determined, Noah continues to be there for her, hoping that Amanda will give their romance a chance.

Finally, at #10 is "We Need New Names" by NoViolet Bulawayo. The book chronicles the adventures of Darling, a 10-year-old who is often accompanied by her buddies Chipo, Bastard, Stina, and Godknows. The gang spend their days running around their neighborhood in Zimbabwe as hooligans and guava thieves. They also dream of flying to countries that they consider rich. But when the main character travels to Detroit to live with her aunt, reality sinks in - it is not always rainbows and butterflies being an immigrant in America.