Favorite Coming of Age novel
For some reason, whenever I think of a 'coming of age novel' in general terms, I can't help but think of a book that looks at transition, usually fueled by some external force, that requires a young person to begin to confront the issues of adulthood. But in my head, that external force always felt like it needed to be somewhat significant... almost a tangible catalyst like a death or a war or a realization about the complexity of humanity or some such. Something big! and Important!
And yet, when I saw this category and had to think of a book that resonated with me, the first book that came to mind was Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. - Judy Blume . Margaret does got through a transition that is fueled by an external force -- namely, she moves from NJ to NYC and has to make new friends. Honestly as far as external forces go, that feels rather mundane. And in fact, that isn't the thing that immediately struck me as to why this is coming of age.
This book was first published in 1970. I think I read it in 1980. At the time, to me it was a revelation. Margaret was struggling with identity issues..religion and, well, simple biological ones. I think this was the first (and still really only) book I've read that spoke frankly -- and in first person -- about how a girl felt about getting (or not yet getting) breasts and getting her period and dealing with sanitary napkins. Mind you, I had started reading Harlequin romances by then and those didn't feel half as truthful about sex and female doubt as this book had.