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Okay, it's done!

Thanks to all of you who nominated books for this Award List and made it such an amazing success. I received so many comments and emails - I really really appreciate everyone who took the time to stop by and weigh in with their favorite books (or series) with a coming-of-age theme.

I ended up breaking the titles down into some sub categories just to make the list more useful. Some of the categories are obvious (Science Fiction & Fantasy or Classics) but I did also split titles into those most likely to appeal to boys or girls or both. Clearly there is no reason why boys wouldn't like a book in the girl subcategory or vice versa, (I've read books from all of these subcategories), but I thought it would be easier for readers who might want to use this list to find books for certain kids (or for themselves). Don't think any of the splits are set in stone, they were just a way to better manage the nominations.

There were a few surprises for me here, the biggest was that apparently you come of age really fast when someone you care about dies. I mean really - there are a lot of books in this list that involve dead people. I lableled all of them just so you could see, and also labeled books that dealt with "problems" (abuse, suicide attempt, etc.) and those that had multicultural protagonists. I folded African American, Asian American, Cuban, Indian, etc. all into that multicultural theme - because some of the books dealt with kids in other countries where they were not a minority and it would have been stupid to use that label. So multicultural is the catch-all for all books with non-Caucasian protagonists and let me just say there aren't nearly enough of them in this list.

I've been thinking about issues of race in writing for YAs for awhile now and it was frustrating how few nominated books had, say, African American protagonists. I'm sure there are more out there but clearly there are not enough. It would be lovely if we could see more books published like Cecil's Boy Proof that had minority characters - in other words just a lovely story about a girl finding her way in the world that wasn't always about a white girl. Justina Chen Headley's Nothing But the Truth... is a perfect example of what we could use more of in the coming-of-age genre, just to balance the scales a bit.

Another thing that really bothered me was how appallingly few books with gay characters were nominated. We all love Brent Hartinger but really - there has to be more out there for GLBT teens who are looking for literary role models. The low low number in this category really bugged me, and I hope that if readers know more books that should have been nominated they will let me know.

And if I didn't label a book as multicultural or for GLBT kids that I should have, then let me know and I'll make appropriate changes.

There were a few books I removed from the list - they were nominated by authors themselves, which I thought was just too cheesey, or by people who ended up being close friends (as in they ran booster web sites for the author) and that seemed too close for me. If I had gotten other folks to nominate the same books then I would have been reticient to delete the noms, but that was not the case.

I also have a missing book - there was a nomination for "Geography of a Girl" but no author was provided. I can't find anything out about this book - if anyone knows anything please let me know.

I really enjoyed putting this together and I hope that it brings these authors more fans. I know I'm very intrigued by several titles I had not heard of before working on this and I'm looking forward to seeing just what I've been missing.

Oh - and if a book received more than one nomination then I labeled it as "Multiple votes". (In the case of Lloyd Alexander several people nominated individual titles while others nominated the whole series. I just listed the series and gave it multiple votes.)

UPDATED: I've incorporated changes and more nominations suggested in the comments into the list. This certainly helps with the GLBT titles!

Behind the Cut - the Mother of all Coming-of-Age YA Booklists!

Books Girls Will Identify With Strongly

Say Goodnight, Gracie by Julie Reece Deaver (death)
The Queen of Everything by Deb Caletti (death)
Swollen by Melissa Lion (death)
Upstream by Melissa Lion (death)
Define Normal by Julie Ann Peters
Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Weiss (problem)
Born Confused by Tanja Desai Hidier (multicultural)
Figuring Out Frances by Gina Willner-Pardo
A Room on Lorelei St by Mary Pearson (problem) MULTIPLE VOTES
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (death)
Pursuit of Happiness by Tara Altebrando (death)
The True Meaning of Cleavage by Mariah Fredericks
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (problem) MULTIPLE VOTES
Stained by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
So B It by Sarah Weeks
An Egg on 3 Sticks by Jackie Fischer (death)
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (multicultural)
The Alison Rules by Catherine Clark (death)
The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson (death)
Nothing But the Truth and a Few White Lies by Justina Chen Headley (multicultural) MULTIPLE VOTES
Camilla by Madeline L'Engle
Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock
Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins (multicultural)
Not So Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen by Mitali Perkins (multicultural)
A Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L'Engle (death) MULTIPLE VOTES
Good Girls by Laura Ruby
Zazoo by Robert Mosher (multicultural) MULTIPLE VOTES
Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci
The Queen of Cool by Cecil Castellucci
Beige by Cecil Castellucci MULTIPLE VOTES
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (problem)
A Brief Chapter In My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt (death)
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (death)
The Keeping Days series by Norma Johnston
Kalpana's Dream by Judith Clarke (multicultural)
The Geography of Girlhood by Kirsten Smith
Make Lemonade by Virginia Wolff
Celine by Brock Cole

Books Boys Will Identify With Strongly

Born to Rock by Gordon Korman
The Blue Helmet by William Bell (death) (Released only in Canada)
Autobiography of My Dead Brother by Walter Dean Myers (multicultural) (death)
King Dork by Frank Portman
Nothing But the Truth by Avi
Tyrell by Coe Booth (multicultural) (problem)
Funny Little Monkey by Andrew Auseon
Theories of Relativity by Barbara Haworth-Attard (problem)
What Happened to Lani Garver by Carol Pum-Ucci (death)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky MULTIPLE VOTES
Hatchett by Gary Paulson
The Knights of Hill Country by Tim Tharp
Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings (death)
The Maze by Will Hobbs
Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
Jude by Kate Morgenroth (death)
Pool Boy by Michael Simmons
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher (multicultural)
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher (problem)
Megiddo's Shadow by Arthur Slade (death)
Amaryllis by Craig Crist Evans (death)

Boys & Girls Will Relate Equally

Shadow of a Hero by Peter Dickinson
Friction by ER Frank
Homecoming by Cynthia Voight (death)
Just Like That by Marsha Qualey (death)
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Toll Bridge by Aidan Chambers
(Also all books in the Dance sextet by Aidan Chambers)
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli MULTIPLE VOTES
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
The Lottery by Beth Goobie (death)
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (problem)
Tangerine by Edward Bloor
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Giver by Lois Lowery
Bridge to Teribithia by Katherine Paterson (death)
Kimchi & Calamari by Rose Kent (multicultural)
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes (death)
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotsen
A Thief in the House of Memory by Tim Wynne Jones
Catalogue of the Universe by Margaret Mahy
Side Effects by Amy Koss (problem)
All of the Above by Shelly Pearsall (multicultural)
London Calling by Edward Bloor (death)
Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas

Books GLBT YAs Will Identify With Strongly

The Geography Club by Brent Hartinger (and sequels) MULTIPLE VOTES
Baby Be Bop by Francisca Lia Block
The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson MULTIPLE VOTES
Luna by Julie Ann Peters
Far From Xanadu by Julie Ann Peters
Keeping You a Secret by Julie Ann Peters
Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle
Empress of the World by Sara Ryan
Rules for Hearts by Sara Ryan
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan MULTIPLE VOTES
Wide Awake by David Levithan MULTIPLE VOTES
Dramarama by E. Lockhart
My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
What Happened to Lani Garver by Carol Plum-Ucci
The Realm of Possibilities by David Levithan
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Totally Joe by James Howe MULTIPLE VOTES
M or F? by Lisa Papademetriou and Chris Tibbetts
In the Garage by Alma Fullerton
Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters
Absolutely, Positively Not by David LaRochelle
The Hookup Artist by Tucker Shaw
So Hard to Say by Alex Sanchez
What's in a Name by Ellen Wittlinger

Mysteries/Thrillers That Include Characters Coming-of-Age

The Killer's Cousin by Nancy Werlin
As Simple as Snow by Gregory Galloway
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Classics (Published before 1970)

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith MULTIPLE VOTES
The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Just Above My Head by James Baldwin
The Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (death) MULTIPLE VOTES
Christy by Catherine Marshall
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield
White Boots by Noel Streatfield
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury MULTIPLE VOTES
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh MULTIPLE VOTES
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler by EL Konigsberg MULTIPLE VOTES
The Outsiders by SE Hinton MULTIPLE VOTES
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Grass Harp by Truman Capote

Graphic Novels

The PLAIN Janes by Cecil Castellucci
Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Black Hole by Charles Burn
Blankets by Craig Thompson

Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Bartimeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud MULTIPLE VOTES
Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman MULTIPLE VOTES
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer MULTIPLE VOTES
City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau
Warriors series by Erin Hunter MULTIPLE VOTES
Siberia by Ann Halam
Valiant by Holly Black
Cats of Seroster by Robert Westall
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The Attolia books by Megan Whalen MULTIPLE VOTES
The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander MULTIPLE VOTES
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana wynne Jones
Fire & Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones MULTIPLE VOTES
The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Bulter (multicultural)
Corbenic by Catherine Fisher
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
Magic or Madness trilogy by Justine Larbalestier (multicultural)
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (death)
The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin
The Beginning Place by Ursula K. LeGuin
House of Stairs by William Sleator

Adult Books With Coming-Of-Age Themes
(These were originally published for adult readers but many have been republished for YA readers now as well.)

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Shadow Baby by Alison McGhee (death)
A King Must Die by Mary Renault (also SFF)
The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (also SFF)
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (multicultural) (death)
Boys Life by Robert McCammon
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch
Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow by Faiza Guene (multicultural)
The Girl I Wanted to Be by Sarah Grace McCandless
The Small Rain by Madeline L'Engle
Innocence by Jane Mendelsohn (death)
A Girl Like Che Guevera by Teresa de Caridad Doval (multicultural)


What an amazing list! Many of the books on here are amond my favourites. I hope it gets picked up by people who want to talk about the books at more length - I'd love to know more about many of them, and will certainly look some of them up (many were already on my to-read list).

One amendment: It's Diana Wynne Jones, not Dianne.

Also, not sure about how you qualify multicultural as just being colour-based, or about non-Caucasians. To me, Looking for Alibrandi is a multicultural book because it's about a girl from an Italian background living in Australia, and deals with some of the problems/issues of that as well as other things.

Oh, and is it too late to make extra recommendations? :)

Because it occurs to me that Little Women is a really good example of a classic coming of age story...

I know you know this, but typo: frank portman wrote KING DORK.

also, GLBT books, off the top of my head:

Julie Ann Peters:

Lauren Myracle:

Sara Ryan:

David Levithan:

E. Lockhart:
DRAMARAMA (G) (May 2007)

Garret Freymann-Weyr

Nancy Garden

I'm sure the mystery book is The Geography of Girlhood, by Kirsten Smith. MotherReader & I both did blog reviews of it.

Yeah, Geography of Girlhood was great, IMHO. It's a novel in verse, but to me this one is true poetry, and not just poetic prose with random line breaks as some N-i-V seem to be.

Geography of Girlhood is lovely and by Kirsten Smith.

I second all the GBLT books Jennifer stated.

great list! my reading pile just got bigger.

Thanks guys for catching me on the typos - I think I just got bat crazy at some point last night and started making mistakes. I'm so glad there were not that many! (All are corrected.)

I've added the books you guys mentioned except Jennifer's big list - still need to put that in and will do so soon. Thanks so much for all of those book recommendations Jennifer!!!

And yes - it must have been The Geography of Girlhood and that is added now as well.

What an amazing resource! I know how much work such lists are to assemble, and I'm so impressed with the number of nominations that you received, and with your smart and helpful categories. I'll be sure and link to this list.

Terrific lists!

What a lovely list. Might I also recommend "The Grass Harp" by Truman Capote and "The Book of Lost Things" by John Connolly?

Thanks for all the kind words guys and Kevin both of your noms are now listed (one as a Classic, one as SFF.)

I'll add all Jennifer's GLBT titles later today!

Wow. That is a wondeful list. I'm honoured to be on it. All the books I can think of off the top of my head are already on it. And there's a whole bunch books I don't know that I'll be tracking down. Thank you!

Looking for Alaska and Looking for Alibrandi are both 'death' books...

...with VERY similar titles!

I'd also agree with Tansy and say that Alibrandi is a multicultural book.

Part of me wishes you didn't have the "death" classification. It's SUCH a spoiler for those who haven't read the books . . .

Actually every book that has the death classification has death in the book's description - for example in Ring of Endless Light Vicky Austen is dealing with her grandfather dying - which you know from the basic description and from the first chapter of the book.

The reason the two books that Lili mentions don't have the death classification is because "death" was not mentioned in the descriptions.

(I did throw it in there for Bridge of Teribithia because I think people should know what's coming in that book as opposed to what it thinks is coming from the movie trailier.)

I tried to keep it from being a spoiler thing Justine - I might have slipped up on a couple but my intent was to mention death only when death was pretty much part of the story from the beginning. (Hence, no death note on Little Women although I imagine everyone knows about that one.

I wasn't even going to put the death notes in there until I noticed just how many books on this list had a death in part of the description. I planned to mention how death was apparently a recurrent theme in the genre, but knew I would have to back that assertion up - so I labeled the books and here we are.

Sort of a chicken/egg thing, huh?

Great, great list. Thanks for compiling it.

What Happened to Lani Garver by Carol Plum-Ucci
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
The Realm of Possibilities by David Levithan
The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Empress of the World by Sara Ryan
Wide Awake by David Levithan
Luna by Julie Anne Peters
Totally Joe by James Howe
(sequel to The Misfits by James Howe)
M or F? by Lisa Papademetriou and Chris Tibbetts
Geography Club by Brent Hartinger
In the Garage by Alma Fullerton
Far from Xanadu by Julie Anne Peters
Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters
Absolutely, Positively Not by David LaRochelle
The Hookup Artist by Tucker Shaw
So Hard to Say by Alex Sanchez
What's in a Name by Ellen Wittlinger

I'm nutso when it comes to spoilers. I won't read cover copy until after I've read a book. So I'm the only one I know who was stunned by what happened in Looking for Alaska. That's right, I'm so dumb I didn't see it coming . . .

I definitely didn't know about Little Women when I read it as a kid. And doesn't it happen in the second book not the first? My memory is hazy.

So anyway take what I say with the proverbial grain of salt.


To add to the Science Fiction & Fantasy section: of Ursula Le Guin's work, "The Tombs of Atuan" and "The Beginning Place" in particular are coming-of-age stories.

Thanks guys - new suggestions will be added.

And hey Justine - I haven't read Looking for Alaska yet and had no idea it involved a death until I got into this thread.

So I think all you guys just ruined that book for me! ha!

And the big tragedy is in Little Women - the movie version is even more devastating. I don't care that it was based on Alcott's real life; that one always always makes me cry!

This is a fabulous list!

Not sure if it's too late, but Celine by Brock Cole is one of my favorite coming-of-age novels.

Make Lemonade, by Virginia Euler(sp?) Wolff, is good too. It's possibly multicultural but she's deliberately vague about race.

And I never really thought of House of Stairs, by William Sleator, as a coming-of-age novel, but in addition to all the other chilling things it is, it is that.

This list is awesome, but I have one small protest -- I think Rats Saw God should go under the "both boys and girls" category. Sure, it's about a guy, but I can name four girls off the top of my head (myself included) who count it among their favorite books. I wouldn't say it's any more of a "guy" book than An Abundance of Katherines.

Great list, Colleen! Thanks for all your work compiling it. Is it too late to add my vote to "Life as We Knew It" so that you can mark it "multiple votes?" I didn't think of it when I submitted my nominations, but it's a great look at a teen coming of age in a post-apocalyptic world. The diary format makes it so much more real and personal.

Okay guys, I think I got all your additions in (thank Little Willow for more GLBT books!)and the list is now HUGE!!! ha!

I really appreciate all the support and yes - if you have more suggestions or votes just let me know and we'll update the list accordingly.

David S

You need to add "Animal Farm by George Orwell" to the "Classic (Published by 1970). I would greatly appreciate it.

Peter Leyland

I thought you could include Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen on your list

What a great list. I have another book to add to the list in case others were interested in good books.


Hi there,

This is surely a great list but even so it is too much focused on english language authors.

I'll send shortly a list and keep adding non-english language authors (many of whom already published in english, some otherts not).

All best


her go some non-english author coming of age books:

Spring Night, by Tarjei Vesaas
Le Grand Meaulnes, by Alain Fournier
Aharon Appelfeld, by Aharon Appelfeld
Aparition, by Vergílio Ferreira
Who was David Weiser?, by Pawel Huelle
Madame, by Antoni Libera
Aunt Julia and the scriptwriter, by Mário Vargas Llosa (one of my favorites)

Well that's all for now but more will follow


small mistake while copying the title of the book by Aharon Appelfeld, which is, obviously: Blooms of Darkness


small mistake while copying the title of the book by Aharon Appelfeld, which is, obviously: Blooms of Darkness

As to English language authors there are some central books missing here also like:

Ellen Foster, by Kate Gibbons
The book thief, by Markus Zusak
Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

and a couple of others I'll point out in the future

finally some more non-english language authors:

Lo's Diary, by Pia Pera
Le Blé en herbe, by Colette
La constanza della ragione, by Vasco Pratolini
Las Edads de Lulu, by Almudena Grandes

all best


I stumbled across this post while searching for more books like Robert McCammon's amazing Boys Life. Just wanted to add a few others I've found. Hotel Paradise by Martha Grimes, and Summer of Night by Dan Simmons. Can't wait to check out some of the books on this list!

Harrison Bergeron

I would like to recommend "Memory Lake" by Nancy Kyme as a coming of age book that works for both boys and girls (and men and women for that matter). More information at:

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