Classic Coming of Age Stories - Girls Edition
I'm a sucker for a coming of age story with an interesting female protagonist. Here are three of my favorites.
Rumer Godden's The Greengage Summer is narrated by a 13 year old English girl, Cecilia Grey, but its focus is mostly on her older sister Joss. It's a hot dusty summer in 1958, and the two of them and their three young siblings are left in the care of the staff in a small hotel in rural France (their parents having been conveniently gotten out of the way by the author.) Enter Eliot, a fellow Brit and hotel guest whose comings and goings are of great interest to the Greys. Oddly enough, he seems to be just as interested in them as they are in him.
I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, takes place in 1930s England and unfolds as told by eccentric teenager Cassandra Mortmain. She tells how she, her beautiful sister Rose, her brother Thomas, and her stepmother Topaz deal with life in the crumbling castle they lease and occupy with their self-obsessed father, a celebrated novelist who suffers from writers' block. When a wealthy American family, the Cottons, inherit the castle, romances and complications arise. If you think you can predict what will happen, think again. There are no neat little bows wrapping up this story.
Francie Nolan is the heroine of Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The story begins in Williamsburg in the summer of 1912 and follows the fortunes of Francie and her impoverished family over the next five years. Rich with characters and incidents, the novel is remarkable for its depiction of Francie, beautifully chronicling her thoughts and feelings as life happens around her in her family and her neighborhood. Death and birth, faith, scholarship, fairness and inequality, actions and their consequences, all serve to shape Francie into the young woman she becomes by the novel's end.
A few more classic (some more than others) stories of books about coming of age while female are listed below.
Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
Annie On My Mind by nancy Garden
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block