Coming-of-age novels, as I’ve mentioned before, have always been among my favorites in fiction. I don’t know why that is, but I can make some reasonable guesses. Because I especially enjoy character-driven stories, it makes sense that I would like coming-of-age fiction. Also, there is a personal reason. You see, I was a late bloomer. It took me a while to become the mature adult that I am now. I like to think that I’ve learned from my mistakes, and that it’s never too late to continue learning and becoming a stronger, better human being.

Here is a list of coming-of-age novels I’ve recently read and recommend:

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. Set in China and Southern California, this story focuses on a young woman, raised in a Chinese hill tribe, who becomes self-sufficient and learns to adapt to city life and western culture.

The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera. Margot is a fifteen-year-old with a stubborn streak. She makes some wrong decisions and learns life lessons the hard way.

Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall. The teenage daughter of Barbadian immigrants faces a difficult search for her niche in American society.

–I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez. Soon-to-be filmed. It should make a terrific movie. Julia, the protagonist, has a lot going on in her life, and there’s a reason for her moody ways that goes beyond the average teen’s issues. I especially appreciate the author’s depiction of Mexican-American culture.

Flaming Iguanas by Erika Lopez. A young woman slowly realizes her bisexuality while on a hilarious cross-country motorcycle trek. R-rated for sexual language and visuals (the author’s art work).

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Another soon-to-be film that should be terrific. An African-American teen’s life is disrupted when her friend is shot by police. She also has to come to terms with the double life she lives in her neighborhood and in the largely white school she attends.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. The young Chinese American girl in Kwok’s novel has to decide between what she wants and what is expected of her.



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