Staff Picks

                                 Classic Coming of Age Stories - Boys Edition

Hatchet book coverEnder's Game book coverGrowing Pains of Adrian Mole book cover







Our last post highlighted coming of age stories featuring female protagonists.  Now it's the boys' turn.

Survival stories are enduringly popular, and Gary Paulsen's Newbery honor winning Hatchet is one of my favorites.  Brian, a boy in his early teens, is the sole survivor a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness. With only the clothes on his back and his hatchet, he figures out how to make fire, find food, and construct a shelter for himself.  He learns by trial and error and makes a lot of mistakes along the way - but he survives.  Hatchet is a fine, modern successor to books in the tradition of Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe.

In Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, the government determines that Ender Wiggin, age six, has an unusually high potential to become a military commander.  He is taken from his family to the Battle School orbiting Earth, where he is the youngest among those being trained to fight alien forces that threaten the home planet.  Years go by, during which Ender struggles with his fellow students, his teachers, the skills he must master, and his doubts about the war and the enemy he is asked to fight.  Among other honors, Ender's Game was awarded both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards.

Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole books are wonderfully funny for readers, not so much for the title character himself.  The story stretches from Adrian's early teens well into his middle age.  His family seems to become more dysfunctional by the day. He suffers the pangs of unrequited love, is victimized by the school bully, has run-ins with surly dogs and uncooperative senior citizens, endures poverty and hypochondria...and that's just in the first book. Like Brian and Ender, he make his share of mistakes, and he learns to do better.  Well, sometimes.

A few more well-loved books about coming of age while male are listed below.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Native Son by Richard Wright

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky