13 Best Coming Of Age Books For Teens Update 05/2022

Coming Of Age Books For Teens

Even though we live in a more open, accepting, and wired world, teenagers still ask the same questions: Who am I? To be who I want to be: Is this where I belong?

If they want to know, they may be looking for answers, but most teens don’t want to hear them from their parents or anyone over the age of 18. This is where books still play a big part. Here are some examples of what you’ll find in this book: If you have teenagers you care about, I hope these tips will help them get through this exciting and sometimes scary time in their lives.

The House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street

The House on Mango Street is a book that my daughter had to read for school. When I asked her what she thought of the book, she said that even though she had to read it, she thought it was good. When Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, is told through short stories, it can be both heartbreaking and joyful. Readers will laugh, cry, and cheer as they follow Esperanza on her way to becoming an adult.

Black Boy White School

by Brian F. Walker

As racial issues keep making the news, the airwaves, and the Internet, many parents (like myself) aren’t sure how to talk about race with their kids. People should read Black Boy White School. 14-year-old Anthony “Ant” Jones is from the ghetto of East Cleveland, Ohio. When he leaves home to go to prep school in Maine, he learns that not only is it hard to fit in at school, but going home also has its own set of problems.

Darius & Twig

by Walter Dean Myers

Meet Darius and Twig, two people who don’t seem like they’d be best friends, but they are. Darius is a writer who can only escape through his alter-ego, a peregrine falcon named Fury, and Twig is a runner who wants to be a champion. When life in Harlem throws them problems, they work together to get through them. This is how it works: Readers of all kinds will be enthralled by this powerful story about two friends who want to succeed and thrive outside of their neighborhood.

Pretty Face

by Mary Hogan

Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande … everywhere teens turn they see “perfect” young women. And no matter how strong the girl, this constant barrage can take its toll. Enter Hayley, heroine of Pretty Face, a smart, funny, definitely not-skinny teen who feels doomed to be everyone’s funny friend amid the sea of blondes at her Southern California high school. Then Hayley goes to Italy for the summer where she’s admired for her curves and finds first love. Girls will adore this empowering, entertaining story of amore!

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle A Memoir

In the first version of this list, I didn’t put The Glass Castle on it. Then my daughter took it from her school library and couldn’t stop reading. As I did, she found Walls’s story of how she had an unusual childhood to be as interesting as mine. After she finished, we had a quick mother-daughter book club. We talked about what had impressed, moved, and shocked us. All of us agreed that Walls had made us appreciate what we had a lot more. We also were amazed by how strong she was!

Go Ask Alice

by Anonymous

Go Ask Alice was the book I didn’t want my mother to see me reading more than Forever, Scruples, or Flowers in the Attic. I didn’t want her to know I was reading it. I was sure that if she did, she would think that I had a problem with drugs. Even though I hope my daughter reads it, if I tell her to, she might not. First-person account: This book is still very powerful. It tells the story of how a teenage girl became addicted to drugs.

Two Boys Kissing

by David Levithan

Based on real events, Two Boys Kissing is about two 17-year-olds who are going to break a Guinness World Record by kissing for 32 hours. With their increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived mouths locked, the two boys quickly become a central point of interest for teen boys with questions about love, who they are, and how they fit in.

I’ll Give You the Sun

by Jandy Nelson

My daughter had this book at the top of her Christmas gift list. It’s also because her best friend texted her to say that this book was “sooooooooo good [followed by a lot of exclamation points and emoticons], u have to get it!” Those who love John Green will fall in love with this well-made story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal told by Jude and her twin brother Noah.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This book is at the top of the “read-it-before-you-see-it” list I gave my daughter at the start of school. Stephen Chbosky’s book about what it’s like to go through high school in a new way has become a modern classic because it’s perfect.

Call Me 

by Your Name by André Aciman

When Elio, 17, moves in with his family, he has to figure out how to deal with his sexuality and feelings of love when Oliver, a doctoral student, moves in with the family. In the end, both men are rejected and confused by their new love. This gay coming-of-age story is a must-read for its many fans. It’s a beautiful and powerful study of desire, longing, and the pain of first love and first heartbreak.


by Jeffrey Eugenides

In Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides tells the story of Cal, an intersex person who lived in mid-century America. The book is full of themes of sexuality, transformation, and family identity, which are all important parts of a great coming-of-age book. In Cal’s story, Eugenides shows us a more intense version of the confusion and pain that comes with adolescence. Cal’s journey goes from a blissfully ignorant girlhood as Calliope to an uncertain adulthood after they learn they are intersex. This is a classic, and don’t just believe us. The Pulitzer Prize jury agreed with us.

Never Let Me Go 

by Kazuo Ishiguro

It’s a sci-fi and dystopian movie for people who like that kind of movie. Never Let Me Go is about a group of young people who live at Hailsham Boarding School. To understand how universal this theme is, read Joseph O’Neil’s Atlantic review. When the group learns that they are just organ donors being raised for spare parts, they lose their childhood innocence and have to face their own mortality. It has death, love triangles, clones, and a lot of other things in it, too. What can’t you love?

White Teeth 

by Zadie Smith

Irie, Millat, Magid, and Joshua are four young people who grew up in London in the 1980s. This book is a modern classic that tells their stories. You’ll be riveted as our characters take unexpected and divergent paths in a story about race, religion, and the adolescent search for identity. The story is set against a background of generational tension. Because Zadie Smith released this hugely important book at the age of 24, it must be a way to show off.

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