Must-read modern coming-of-age books

  • Sol Rivero

On a day like this in 1951, the renowned book Catcher in the Rye was 1st published, and to celebrate, we take a look at some other must-read modern coming-of-age books from the last two decades, which you should definitely write down on your reading list for this summer.


Must-read modern coming-of-age book #5: Looking for Alaska

Penned by John Green, the author of the much beloved The fault in our stars, his 1st published book, Looking for Alaska, is a coming-of-age tale in which a young man called Miles “Pudge” Halter, who has a particularly tame life, is transferred into a new high school and meets a wonderful girl who changes his life forever, the troubled and beautiful Alaska Young.

The teenagers have a complex and dark relationship, which will develop into a tragic tale, and ultimately teach the protagonist about the inevitability of life and growing up.


Must-read modern coming-of-age book #4: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

One of the most wonderful coming-of-age tales, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower is presented as a group of letters written by Charlie, a young and shy boy who moves into a new school after the suicide of one of his best friends. There, Charlie is fascinated by two misfits with complicated lives, Patrick, and his step-sister, Sam, who instantly steals his heart.

The book was adapted into the big screen in 2012 with Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller in the main roles, and taking considerable liberties from the original story, while maintaining the same moving quality of Chbosky’s tale.


Must-read modern coming-of-age book #3: Never Let Me Go

With a different structure than the previous two items on this list, Kazuo Ishiguro tells a coming-of-age story from the point of view of an adult named Kathy who looks back at her teenage years after meeting with some of her old friends. By looking back, Kathy and her mates realize that what seemed to be a pleasant and wonderful life was actually far from it, since the school they attended hides a dark secret.

The book received numerous awards, and was turned into a film in 2010 with Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield playing the title roles.


Must-read modern coming-of-age book #2: The Virgin Suicides

Published in 1993, this classic book tells the story of five teenage sisters from an extremely conservative family, who face their isolation with rebelliousness after the youngest girl commits suicide. The story is told from the point of view of the neighborhood boys who are in love with them, as they try to deal with the tragic events that follow.

In 1999, Sofia Coppola directed a mildly successful film adaptation of the book starring Kirsten Dunst, James Woods and Danny Devito, amongst others.


Must-read modern coming-of-age book #1: The Kite Runner

Published in 2003, this moving tale penned by Khaled Hosseini tells the story of two young boys from Afghanistan with different socio-economic status who become dear friends until the political situation tears them apart. Amir is taken to another country, while his friend stays back suffering from the rising violence of his nation, until decades later he decides to come back and face his past.

A film adaptation hit theaters in 2007, and it was generally well received, with nominations from both the Golden Globe and the British Academy Film Awards.



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