FP Staff Picks: Coming of Age Stories

To celebrate the launch of Brontez Purnell's SINCE I LAID MY BURDEN DOWN, an uninhibited exploration of growing up gay in 1980s Alabama, the FP staff shares their favorite coming of age stories.

Lauren, Editor

Favorite protagonists: Celine and Julie from Double Teenage by Joni Murphy (BookThug)

DOUBLE TEENAGE follows best friends Celine and Julie as they try to survive girlhood in Las Cruces, New Mexico. A beautiful, acid-tripping lovechild of MY BRILLIANT FRIEND and 2666, this novel is Brooklyn-based writer Joni Murphy’s debut!

Wren, Publicist

Fav protagonist: John Gallardi Jr. from Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger (Simon & Schuster)

I appreciate John because he is a). a misanthropic teen poet and  b). because he falls in love with his lesbian best friend, deals with his angst, and works to repair their (really awesome and relatable) friendship. I love that Ellen Wittlinger wrote a coming-of-age story that centers friendship and chosen family; I read this book so many times as a fifteen-year-old that my copy is literally falling apart.

Suki, Senior Graphic Designer

Fav protagonist: Mick Kelly from The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (Houghton Mifflin)

Though rising above one’s circumstances is not a unique situation for any literary character to be in, I always admired how self-possessed and deeply sensitive Mick Kelly was. In my mind, she was a true artist with an inner strength that belied her age.

Lucia, External Relations Manager

Fav protagonist: Dave Caros from Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine (HarperCollins)

Dave is orphaned, abandoned by his brother, and stuck in the “Hell Hole for Brats.” At night, he sneaks out of the orphanage to explore 1920s Harlem. While orphans in fiction are common, Dave is unique in his vulnerability and sense of adventure—something I’ve always admired!

Alyea, Assistant Editor

Fav protagonist: Johnny from The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (Viking Press)

I identify a bit with the main protagonist Ponyboy, but I felt most drawn to Johnny because we were both quiet and somewhat anxious people. I was inspired by his small acts of courage throughout the novel and his willingness to speak against the acts committed by his friends.

Jisu, Sales and Marketing Manager

Fav protagonist: Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J.D. Salinger (Little, Brown, and Company)

It’s easy to hate on Holden, and I confess that I’ve done so at various points in my life. And yet, when I was thirteen and read Catcher in the Rye for the first time, I was convinced that I had never read a truer book. Holden is ungrateful, pretentious, self-absorbed, vain, and proud. He is convinced that no one, in the history of the world, has ever endured such pain or frustration as he as. But that’s also how I was during my pre-teen existential crisis (and every crisis since), when I wanted to confront hypocrisy in the adult world but didn’t know how to do it. 
Lucia Brown