The success of the novel The Fault In Our Stars, now made into a movie, has put the spotlight on the coming-of-age novel.
Divergent star Shailene Woodley stars as Hazel Lancaster in the coming film The Fault in Our Stars, based on John Green’s bestselling novel about a teen cancer patient.
Green’s quirky, honest book, published in 2012, has been described as the greatest romance story of the decade.
But it’s also shaping up to be one of the great coming-of-age novels, as Hazel falls in love and learns some cruel life lessons along the way.
Here are some other coming-of-age novels that every child – and adult – should read.
- Looking For Alibrandi
This book by Australian writer Melina Marchetta became an instant classic when it was published in 1992.
In it, young Josephine Alibrandi searches for meaning in her teenage life and struggles with the stigma of being the illegitimate daughter of her single mother. As her self-awareness grows, she comes to understand there is more to her convention-obsessed grandmother than meets the eye.
- The Getting Of Wisdom
Henry Handel Richardson was the pseudonym for Australian writer Ethel Richardson. Her character, Laura Rambotham, exposes the difficulties of being a young, impoverished girl who doesn’t fit in at a boarding school where everyone else is far richer and more worldly. The book shows that even before Facebook, life for the teenager who doesn’t fit in has always been cruel.
- My Brilliant Career
Miles Franklin’s first and best loved novel, about Sybylla Melvyn, its semi-autobiographical tone caused Franklin some angst when it was published. Sybylla, one of many children of a drunken father, goes to live with her grandmother before governessing. She falls in love but turns down marriage because she knows her restless desire to write won’t make her suitor happy.
- The Catcher In The Rye
For generations, JD Salinger’s Holden Caulfield has struck a chord with every existentialist angst-ridden, rebellious teenager. Expelled from school, he heads to New York City and hires a prostitute but is ultimately stymied by overthinking everything, a la Hamlet. His very sweet, enduring love for little sister Phoebe keeps him going.
- To Kill A Mockingbird
This book by Harper Lee is about racial injustice in the Great Depression-era deep south. Young Scout Finch narrates the tale of her lawyer father Atticus’s bravery in defending a black man accused of raping a white girl.
- The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 and 3/4
When Sue Townsend died in April, there was an outpouring of love for her and her most famous creation. Mole’s diaries capture life in Thatcher-era Britain from the perspective of a spotty, wannabe poet living in a dysfunctional working-class family in the Midlands.
- On The Road
A staple of the Beat movement, Jack Kerouac’s semi-autobiographical account of road trips across the US is written in urgent, flowing prose, making it read like pure nonconformist escapism.
- Cider With Rosie
One hundred years after Laurie Lee’s birth, this book poetically evokes life growing up in the idyllic pre-car Gloucestershire village of Slad soon after the First World War.
*The movie The Fault In Our Stars is released in Australia on June 5.