Coming of Age

Junior English

Book Club - Coming of Age - Bildungsroman

Choose 1 of the Book Club novels. All have the common theme of "Coming of Age" or Growing Up.


Coming of Age Essential Questions

  • How does one find him/herself?

  • How does one overcome adversity?

  • What kinds of adversity do people sometimes cause for themselves?

  • How do friends help with growing up?

  • ​Why does "growing up" require understanding or experiencing difficult things?

  • ​What are the elements of the Bildungsroman (coming-of-age stories), and how does this novel reflect those elements?

Pieces of Literature

Choose your book club.

The Multicultural Novel -- Magical Realism

*A novel by Rudolfo Anaya in which his young protagonist, Antonio Márez y Luna tells the story of his coming-of-age with the guidance of his curandera, mentor, and protector, Ultima.

* It has become the most widely read and critically acclaimed novel in the Chicano literary canon since its first publication in 1972.

* The novel reflects Chicano culture of the 1940s in rural New Mexico.

* Anaya’s use of Spanish, mystical depiction of the New Mexican landscape, use of cultural motifs such as La Llorona, and recounting of curandera folkways such as the gathering of medicinal herbs, gives readers a sense of the influence of indigenous cultural ways that are both authentic and distinct from the mainstream.

The Historical Fiction Book

* A novel by American author Sue Monk Kidd.

* Set in the American South in 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act and intensifying racial unrest.

* The coming-of-age story addresses the difficulty of loss and betrayal.

* It received critical acclaim and was a New York Times bestseller. It was nominated for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction and was adapted into a film directed by Gina Prince- Bythewood.

The Autobiographical Book

*1969 autobiography about the early years of American writer and poet Maya Angelou.

*It is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how the strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma.

*The book begins when three-year-old Maya and her older brother are sent to Stamps, Arkansas, to live with their grandmother and ends when Maya becomes a mother at the age of 16.

*In the course of Caged Bird, Maya transforms from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice.

The Controversial Book

*A 1951 novel by J. D. Salinger.

* It has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage confusion, angst, alienation, and rebellion.

* It has been translated into almost all of the world's major languages.

* Around 250,000 copies are sold each year, with total sales of more than 65 million books.

* The novel's protagonist and antihero, Holden Caulfield, has become an icon for teenage rebellion.

* The novel was included on Time's 2005 List of the 100 Best English-Language Novels Written Since 1923, and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 Best English-Language Novels of the 20th Century.

The Best Friends Book

*American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to World War II.


*Set at a boys' boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.

The Vignettes

* A coming-of-age novel by Mexican-American writer, Sandra Cisneros, published in 1984.


* It deals with a young Latina girl, Esperanza Cordero, growing up in Chicago with Chicanos and Puerto Ricans.


* Esperanza is determined to "say goodbye" to her impoverished Latino neighborhood.


* Major themes include her quest for a better life and the importance of her promise to come back for "the ones I left behind."

The Buck Town Book

*A thoughtful, complex and moving story about loss and discovery of identity, love and the ability to change and the restorative powers of nature.


*Seventeen-year-old Pete Shelton's life revolves around helping his friend Abe McMichael build Riverside, a nature preserve dedicated to the memory of Abe's brother, Paul. Then one summer a troubled runaway shows up—a girl named Nora who claims to be Paul's daughter. All her life, Nora has lived with secrets and lies, never knowing anything about her father. Although enemies at first, Pete and Nora slowly begin to piece together their shadowy pasts . . . and discover that their lives intertwine in a way they never imagined.