The best coming-of-age novels that capture the nature of growth

The Books I Picked & Why

Where the Crawdads Sing

By Delia Owens

Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Why this book?

Where the Crawdads Sing by Deliah Owens captured my heart. As a truly heartbreaking and moving coming-of-age story, this is a book that is a challenge to put down with its beautiful depiction of the richness of nature, the depth of childhood into adulthood, and its ability to teach vulnerability. I loved this book because it includes a captivating plot, a truly artistic flow to its narrative, and it is a coming-of-age story not only for the character but also for the reader. It is a truly beautifully crafted novel.  

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Through the Waters and the Wild

By Greg Fields

Book cover of Through the Waters and the Wild

Why this book?

Through the Waters and the Wild really impacted me because it asks the timeless and relatable questions—“Where shall I go now?” and “What shall I do?” Focused on questions we all ask at some point in life, this wonderfully crafted novel answers that question in a unique way. Moving through the time period of the Irish Civil War, Fields is able to tell the story of a young boy finding his way all the while creating a setting in which is almost unbelievably described. I love this book because it seems as if Fields truly used a time machine, and as the reader, I felt as if I was on the streets in Ireland seeing the story take place. 

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The Weight of This World

By David Joy

Book cover of The Weight of This World

Why this book?

The Weight of this World is one of my absolute favorite additions to southern literature. I enjoyed this book, and honestly all of David Joy’s books, because it is crafted in a way to show darkness while at the same time showing glimmers of hope within the characters. This novel is real, raw, and a wonderful read that I would recommend to anyone who is looking to read a book that you can’t put down because of the action, the moments of self-discovery, and the depiction of the roughness within the world.

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By Silas House

Book cover of Southernmost

Why this book?

I loved this book because it is beautiful in so many ways. It is a coming-of-age tale for many of the characters in a unique way. House challenged my view of ways to love, tolerance, and limits of belief. Additionally, I enjoyed this book because of its wonderfully crafted prose. With lessons richly sprinkled on its pages, it provided me with a new way of thinking. The cherry on top for me, was the quite unique plot that as the reader I followed and could not stop until I finished the last page.

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Eleanor & Park

By Rainbow Rowell

Book cover of Eleanor & Park

Why this book?

Yet another beautiful coming-of-age novel, Eleanor & Park took me on a journey that tells the familiar tale of what it is like to be young and in love. Rowell takes that theme we all know and puts a unique spin on it that made my heart smile while reading it. The author plays with nostalgia, very smart young main characters, and the common tale of the pain of love—a fun, important read for the coming-of-age story lover.

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