The best books with coming-of-age characters teaming up to face the unknown

Who are we?

Both of us cherish vivid memories of childhood. We love to explore in writing the frequently amusing shifts in perception and understanding that come with growing up. Such ever-changing perspectives lead to a lot of mistakes. We two have sure made a lot of them. Human beings are goofy enough to hide fearfully from love, run headlong and giddy into danger, devour the world in a mad effort to seize control. Each and every one of us is the unreliable narrator of our own lives. We might laugh at our mistakes or cry, but conflict is inevitable. That is where we find our stories.

We wrote...

Book cover of Night Birds

What is our book about?

In Night Birds, Lucy's grandmother, Annie Maude, may be a witch, her school's lunch lady might be a murderer, and a mysterious figure stalks her in the small South Carolina town where she lives. The chapters consider themes of mental illness, religion, sexual orientation, witchcraft, and death as seen through the eyes of this plucky girl growing up in a haunted house in the 1960s. Charming, provocative, funny, and creepy as Hell, Night Birds will shake you up before leaving you all warm and fuzzy inside.

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The books we picked & why

Book cover of To Kill a Mockingbird

Alan M. Clark and Lisa Snellings Why did I love this book?

This novel does a good job showing the difficulty small children have knowing just how to see the world while learning right from wrong, and how, if given emotional room to grow, they most often gain a sense of self that allows their essential goodness to emerge. As a child, I identified with the children depicted in part because I am a child of the American South, raised in a part of the country where being an eccentric is tolerated, even valued, unless and until a scapegoat is needed. The story gives me a nostalgia for a time when historical injustices in the South were beginning to be addressed, rather than denied, as they so often are today.

By Harper Lee,

Why should I read it?

30 authors picked To Kill a Mockingbird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'

Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel - a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped…

Book cover of Something Wicked This Way Comes

Alan M. Clark and Lisa Snellings Why did I love this book?

Something Wicked This Way Comes is for me about personal perspective and how our own shame and regret can darken our experience of the world and leave us emotionally vulnerable in our striving to reach our hearts’ desire. As an alcoholic, I did a lot of stupid things while intoxicated and trying to reach my heart’s desire, which was to be a successful illustrator. As a sober alcoholic now, I recognize a lot of that intoxicated striving in certain characters in the novel, especially, Jim Nightshade, Mr. Tetley, Mr. Crosetti, and Miss Foley, while the sobering influence of Will Holloway and the redemptive love of Charles Holloway work their own magic against that of the evil carnival.

By Ray Bradbury,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Something Wicked This Way Comes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of Ray Bradbury’s best-known and most popular novels, Something Wicked This Way Comes, now featuring a new introduction and material about its longstanding influence on culture and genre.

For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin. Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all…

Book cover of The Goldfinch

Alan M. Clark and Lisa Snellings Why did I love this book?

Even the tiniest things mean something. As a nearsighted child, I tended to examine my surroundings up close, filling nooks and crannies with stories. Reading The Goldfinch was a bit like experiencing a story from my own nearsighted point of view. At the story’s heart, we find the painting of the same name, by Carel Fabritius. The tiny chain around the leg of the bird isn’t noticed at first, but once seen changes everything for the viewer. Tartt tells a large tale while concentrating on the smallest elements. In an instant of time, the life of the small boy in the story is changed forever. Thereafter, each of his decisions, even the seemingly insignificant ones carry consequences that take him on a long journey through darkness to redemption.

By Donna Tartt,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Goldfinch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2014 Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the…

Book cover of The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Alan M. Clark and Lisa Snellings Why did I love this book?

The Ocean at the End of the Lane speaks to me about my need to reclaim in adulthood some of the magic from my childhood. It’s told from the perspective of an adult character, a broken man, never named, looking back on his childhood. Memories come back upon returning to his childhood home. While realizing some hard truths about his upbringing, he also remembers the real magic he experienced with a childhood friend. Recalling that the pond in his rural neighborhood had the actual ability to become an ocean, he learns that hard truths and magic are not mutually exclusive, and that dangers lurk in both. Child and man become one.

By Neil Gaiman, Elise Hurst (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Ocean at the End of the Lane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



'Neil Gaiman's entire body of work is a feat of elegant sorcery. He writes with such assurance and originality that the reader has no choice but to surrender to a waking dream' ARMISTEAD MAUPIN

'Some books just swallow you up, heart and soul' JOANNE HARRIS

'Summons both the powerlessness and wonder of childhood, and the complicated landscape of memory and forgetting' GUARDIAN


'My favourite response to this book is when people say, 'My childhood was nothing like that - and it was as if…

Book cover of The Body

Alan M. Clark and Lisa Snellings Why did I love this book?

The Body is Gordie’s odyssey into imagination. As we would be inclined to do, he wants to see the dead boy out of morbid curiosity. He also wants to be the hero who found the body. The odyssey tests and reveals Gordie’s character and that of his three friends. As with the boys, we bear some lonely disappointments and pains. We’d be going to see the dead body merely so we could think to ourselves, at least that’s not me. Perhaps that’s what motivates them too. Who doesn’t do that? Yet their quest doesn’t lead only to an unknown dead boy, but to the dead boy in all of them, perhaps all of us. They are brought together as one by the experience and win the prize—they are alive.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Body as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine

#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King’s timeless novella “The Body”—originally published in his 1982 short story collection Different Seasons, and adapted into the 1986 film classic Stand by Me—is now available as a stand-alone publication.

It’s 1960 in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. Ray Brower, a boy from a nearby town, has disappeared, and twelve-year-old Gordie Lachance and his three friends set out on a quest to find his body along the railroad tracks. During the course of their journey, Gordie, Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp, and Vern…

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At What Cost, Silence?

By Karen Lynne Klink,

Book cover of At What Cost, Silence?

Karen Lynne Klink Author Of At What Cost, Silence?

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Child abuse survivor Reader Adventure traveler Animal lover

Karen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Secrets, misunderstandings, and a plethora of family conflicts abound in this historical novel set along the Brazos River in antebellum Washington County, East Texas.

It is a compelling story of two neighboring plantation families and a few of the enslaved people who serve them. These two plantations are a microcosm of a country on the brink of war, encompassing a variety of issues: love and friendship between men, relationships between fathers and sons, sibling rivalry, slavery, and the position of women in society.

At What Cost, Silence?

By Karen Lynne Klink,

What is this book about?

Adrien Villere suspects he is not like other boys. For years, he desperately locks away his feelings and fears-but eventually, tragedy and loss drive him to seeking solace from his mentor, a young neighbor Jacob Hart. Jacob's betrayal of Adrien's trust, however, results in secret abuse, setting off a chain of actions from which neither Adrien's wise sister, Bernadette, nor his closest friend, Isaac, can turn him.

At What Cost, Silence presents two contrasting plantation families in a society where strict rules of belief and behavior are clear, and public opinion can shape an entire life. Centerstage are the Villeres,…

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