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Growing Pains: Coming-of-Age Titles from the Female Perspective

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The coming-of-age genre is perhaps one of the most powerful and influential of all. 

During the complicated transition into adulthood, the coming-of-age novel offers valuable insights and comfort to young adults navigating their place in the world. 

While many well-known titles are told from the male perspective, these contemporary texts explore the unique experience of the female journey from adolescence to adulthood.

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

An exploration of contemporary Latina identity, this diary-format novel explores the complex issues of love, death, teenage pregnancy, addiction, sexuality and rape. With a drug-addict father and a mother tied to the values of traditional Mexican heritage, Gabi struggles with the expectations placed upon her by society and those around her. This is a raw and honest novel that follows Gabi’s journey to finding her own voice.

Under a Painted Sky

Based in Missouri in 1849, Lee’s novel is an emotional and suspenseful story of friendship and sacrifice. Samantha is a fifteen-year-old Chinese-American violinist, who finds herself on the run from the law with sixteen-year-old African-American slave, Annamae. Together, dressed-up as cowboys, they set off on a journey of self-discovery on the Oregon trail. This is a well-crafted novel that explores issues of race and discrimination, as well as music, art, religion and Chinese philosophy.    

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

Consisting of fifteen interconnected short stories, Alvarez’s novel spans more than thirty years in the lives of the four García sisters and their parents, who, like Alvarez, are forced to flee to America from the Dominican Republic due to political unrest. Told in reverse-chronological order, the novel explores the García family’s quest for identity, as they begin their new lives in New York, as well as the girls’ coming of age experience. This is a must-read for all young adults.

Copywriter and journalist. Also a running enthusiast and tree-hugger.

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