Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems in Coming of Age Fiction

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The Bookish! This week's topic: hidden gems in a genre of our choice. This is a bit of a struggle for me, since I my reading tends towards things that are fairly popular and I don't tend to read heavily in any particular genre. My most-read subgenre is probably coming-of-age stories, so I tried to pick ones that aren't super trendy, at least?



The Lords of Discipline: I know this was on my list last week as well but I don't care because it fits both topics. This was a relatively unusual novel, for my own reading, because it takes place at a military academy and is very heavy in the kind of boys-becoming-men narrative that I find mostly boring. But Conroy is a fantastic writer and this book is full of emotional truth.

The Marriage Plot: This is the least acclaimed (and honestly, the least good) of Eugenides's novels, but honestly even not that great for him is still a really good book. This one leaves the Detroit setting of his first two and traces the relationships/loose love triangle between three university students and has interesting things to say about figuring out who you are.

About A Boy: There are two parallel growing-up narratives here...one an actual young teenager and one an overgrown teenager, and Nick Hornby has a wonderful touch for these kind of stories (he also wrote the screenplay for An Education, a favorite movie of mine).

The Love Song of Jonny Valentine: This book about a Justin Bieber-esque preteen idol trying to figure out who he actually is and what he actually wants creates a voice that pulls at your heartstrings, because he's simultaneously so naive in some ways and jaded in others.

City of Thieves: This is a buddy road-trip book pairing up a dorky teenager and an older, suave solider in a decidedly grim setting (the siege of Leningrad), which keeps it from getting either too light or too serious, and even though it's not hard to see the end coming it still has a big impact.

The Panopticon: Anais is just a teenager, but she's already a hardened vet of "the system" by the time we meet her, and we both explore her past to see how she came to be who she is and watch her decide how she's going to go forward as she balances between being the worst version of herself or trying for something better.

The Big Rewind: This one is a bit of a stretch for coming-of-age, but our Brooklyn hipster heroine Jett's revisiting of her past relationships and efforts to get past her own damage and grow put it there for me. This book is charming.

Many Waters: This least-known chapter of Madeline L'Engle's Time Quartet focuses on the "normal" twin brothers Sandy and Dennys and how they're impacted by their own adventure: getting sent back into a Biblical story. I love all these books but have a special fondness for this one.

The Guineveres: Four young women, all named Guinevere, spend their teenage years "with the church" being raised by nuns. Each of them is there for a different reason, and each of them has a different response to the stress of the situation. A really lovely book.

Green Girl: This is a book with an odd, non-traditional structure, but the story it tells about a young American woman who recently lost her mother trying to make her way in London has a visceral impact if you can get into it.

8 comments

  1. I love me some coming-of-age stories as well! Didn't know any of these yet though, so I'll have to check them out!

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    1. Lords of Discipline is a particular fave, so I'd recommend that one the most overall :)

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  2. Love that Lords is making so many of your lists!!

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  3. Hi! I loved all of Pat Conroy's books and Nick Hornby, too. The Big Rewind looks good- I'm going to check it out!
    My TTT
    Leslie

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    1. I actually still need to read the rest of Conroy's work! I've got them all, I just need to get them actually into my hands

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  4. You have a nice and varied selection of books today!

    Here is our TTT

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    1. Thanks! I try to have a good mix :)

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