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Here are ten deeply moving coming of age stories listed in no particular order.
Starting off at #1 is “Rabbit Cake” by Annie Hartnett. A tragicomedy on grief and healing, this book tells the story of Elvis Babbit, a young girl who recently lost her mother due to a supposed drowning accident. Now, her family starts acting strangely – her older sister Lizzie is “sleep-eating,” and her father is wearing his deceased wife’s silk robe and lipstick. Meanwhile, Elvis does her own investigation into the real cause of her parent’s death, and decides to finish her mom’s research about animal behaviors by herself.
At #2 is “We Are Okay” by Nina LaCour. This novel centers on Marin, a student who is trying to reconcile the drastic changes in her life: her grandfather’s passing, her first year in college, and the revelation of her past. All of these contribute to the bout of depression she is facing alone. Enter Mabel, Marin’s pal, who comes to visit and accompany her for three days. However, this only makes things harder for the protagonist, as she attempts to suppress both her feelings for her friend and the emergence of her true sexuality.
Next, at #3 is “Ten Days of Perfect.” It is the initial installment of the November Blue series written by Andrea Randall. It revolves around Ember Harris, a grant writer and child of hippie musicians. She has just recovered from a bad breakup, but refrains to fall in love once more. One night, she encounters Bo Cavanaugh at a local pub, and sparks fly instantly. Everything is going well when Ember’s ex-boyfriend Adrian returns to win her again. She is caught in a dilemma between her old flame and her new lover.
At #4 is “The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko.” Penned by Scott Stambach, the plot is set in a children’s hospital in Belarus. it narrates the tale of Ivan, a teenage boy who is born 18 months after a nuclear reactor exploded in Chernobyl. Just like the other babies near that area, he is brought into the world with a physical abnormality. Then he meets Polina, an orphan who has leukemia. They turn into best buddies, putting aside their flaws and deficiencies. Eventually, they lose their hearts to one another.
Following at #5 is “Island of a Thousand Mirrors” by Nayomi Munaweera. The setting takes place during a civil war in Sri Lanka. The story is divided into two parts, each told by a different girl. The first is Yasodhara Rajasinghe, a Sinhalese whose family migrates to the United States to escape. But she decides to go back to her country to help those who are stranded and orphaned by the ongoing hostility. She rescues the second narrator, Saraswathi, a Tamil who lives within the premises of the combat zone.
At #6 is “Things I Should Have Known.” Written by Claire LaZebnik, the book focuses on Chloe Mitchell, a popular teen in school who sets out on a mission to find a boyfriend for her autistic older sibling, Ivy. She believes that Ethan Fields, a boy from Ivy’s special class, is the suitable match for her. However, she finds the young lad’s brother David quite annoying. Later on, the main character realizes she shares the same view with the guy she dislikes, and an unlikely friendship is formed among the four.
Next, at #7 is “The Gravity of Birds” by Tracy Guzeman. This novel describes the tale of Thomas Bayber, a renowned artist who has not made any creation for the past years. One day, he reveals a hidden painting, featuring his younger self, posing in between two sisters: Natalie and Alice Kessler. Bayber discloses that the masterpiece is a portion of a triptych, and that the other panels are nowhere to be found. He enlists the help of a critic and an appraiser to search for the Kesslers and the missing panels of his artwork.
At #8 is “My Name is Leon” by Kit de Waal. Set in Britain in the 1980’s, it chronicles the life of an 8-year-old named Leon. His mother, Carol, has recently given birth to a baby named Jake. Although the protagonist is excited to take care of his new sibling, he also begins to notice that something is wrong with his mom. Due to the decline of his parent’s mental health, his infant brother gets adopted. Leon is taken at a foster home under Maureen’s supervision, struggling to cope up with his emotional wounds.
Following at #9 is “Present Perfect.” Written by Alison G.Bailey, this novel centers on Amanda Kelly,
Finally, at #10 is “We Need New Names” by NoViolet Bulawayo.
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