A Northern Light Book Cover

A Northern Light

A Northern Light is a story of a girl's search for identity and independence, complicated by the demands of family and financial struggle.

Mattie is faced with how to live her dreams without feeling as though she is betraying her family.
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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn book cover

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a timeless classic as well as one of the best coming of age stories of all time.

Set in the early 1900's, the story follows the hardships as well as the achievements of the Nolan family.
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Ada, Legend of a Healer book cover

Ada, Legend of a Healer

This Book is a poignant representation of American culture in the twenty-first century, a story of compassion and the unconquerable power of the human will.

Ada has spent her life shutting people out, but now, with the power to heal the stakes are much higher. What was once a life unnoticed, has turned into a life stalked by those who want to control her. Read More

Jane Eyre book cover

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is an incredible example of the strength of the human will but also the tenderness of the human spirit.

Jane is an orphan sentenced to the lower class of society because of her loss. She grows beyond society's judgment into a sensitive woman not afraid of life's challenges.
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Young Fu book cover

Young Fu

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze is a story of unbearable pressure and struggle but also of the adaptable nature of youth and the importance of sound character. Forced away from the quiet solitude of his family's farm, Young Fu is thrust into the fast, and sometimes cut-throat, pace of city life where he'll be faced with hard choices that will eventually define the man he'll become.
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Huck Finn book cover

Huck Finn

Huckleberry Finn tells the story of societal conditioning and the struggle of a young boy who's determined to do what feels right in his heart.

Huck is faced with a choice, to help a good friend or turn his back on a man that society has judged a slave.
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The Giver book cover

The Giver

Jonas lives in the perfect society, no crime, no financial woes, no suffering, but at what cost? His new job, which was chosen for him by officials, will open a vault of secrets that will certainly bring into focus what he's never questioned: what's the price of a "perfect" society? Read More

The Joy Luck Club book cover

The Joy Luck Club

A The Joy Luck Club is a mesmerizing story of mothers and daughters filling in the gaps of misunderstanding that built up over years of high hopes and unreasonable expectations.
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The Hobbit book cover

The Hobbit

A day well spent for a hobbit is good food, a cozy fire and a full pipe, all in the safe confines of home. Bilbo's comfortable existence is interrupted by a visit from a wizard who wants Bilbo to leave behind all he knows for a mysterious adventure.
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Catcher in the rye book cover

Catcher In The Rye

Everyone expects Holden Caulfield to know what he wants to do with his life, but at sixteen what Holden wants to do is the opposite of what everyone thinks he should. Heading home after being kicked out of school, Holden sets out on a downward spiral of bad choices. Will he find his way?
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the outsiders book cover

The Outsiders

Ponyboy and his gang, the Greasers, have spent their whole lives silently accepting their place at the bottom of society's ladder. But, will they be able to remain silent when a gang of rich kids, the Socs, threaten to beat up any "greaser" they come across?
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homeless bird book cover

Homeless Bird

Koly fears that if her husband, of a pre-arranged marriage, dies she will be unwanted and even worse cast out of society in India. She can't go back to her own family and her husband's family will only see her as a burden. Why should one person's value be based on another's?
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time of the doves book cover

Time of the Doves

In Spain during the civil war, a young girl named Natalia stumbles onto her path in life, learning that despair, loss, and sorrow are, at times, the painful ingredients in self discovery. But, along this dark and troubled road is where her true character begins to bloom.
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Swann's Way book cover

Swann's Way

Marcel Proust beautifully captures life through the eyes of a young boy growing up in French society during the late 19th century. The narrator describes his thoughts and feelings on the parental injustices and naive confusion of coming of age.
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The Red Tent book cover

The Red Tent

The Red Tent is the story of Dinah, a biblical figure from The Book of Genesis. Dinah is barely mentioned in the bible, but Anita Diamant masterfully weaves a story that brings her to life along with a richly detailed vision of what life was like for women during the biblical times.
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The Lord of the Flies book cover

The Lord Of The Flies

A powerfully written, but disturbing example of the wicked nature that lingers just under the surface of humanity. What would become of a group of boys stranded on an uninhabited island?
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Children of the Arbat book cover

Children of the Arbat

This book follows the lives of a circle of young friends coming of age in Russia during the reign of Stalin. Anatoli Rybakov masterfully describes the psychological destruction inflicted on a generation subjected to Stalin's oppressive governing through fear.
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Coming of Age Books

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Title:

The Adventures of Huck Finn

Author:

Mark Twain

Publisher:

Createspace

Page Count:

202

ISBN #:

1442141018

Website:

 

Publication Date:

1884

 

Description from back of book (Apple Classics):

Huck Finn grew up along the Mississippi in the days of slavery. Huck was a homeless rebel-a boy who loved freedom more than respectability. Huck isn't above lying and stealing but when he meets up with Jim, a runaway slave, he has a battle with his conscience. Jim tells Huck that his owner wants to sell him to a slave trader down river for $800. Jim wants to go North to a free state. If he helps Jim escape, Huck knows he'll be in serious trouble with the law. But can he turn Jim in when al Jim wants is to be free?


Thoughts on the book: (spoiler alert)

One of the main dilemmas in Huckleberry Finn is Huck's struggle with societal conditioning and what feels right in his heart. Huck Finn values his freedom, especially after it's snatched from him by an abusive father.  Upon escaping from his father, Huck runs into Jim, a friend but also an enslaved man who wants his freedom. Huck has to make a choice, help a friend find his freedom or go along with society's laws and expectations. These are confusing issues for Huck, on one hand, Jim is his friend who is being forced into a bad situation against his will, on the other, hand society says Jim is a slave and the property of another. Throughout the book, Huck battles back and forth on these issues but when it comes down to it, no matter what the peril, he always fights for Jim's freedom.

 

One question that kept coming to mind while reading Huckleberry Finn was: what societal conditioning am I accepting right now at the expense of my better conscience?


Favorite quote:
            You can't pray a lie-I found that out.
                        -- Mark Twain Huckleberry Finn

 

 

Title:

The Giver

Author:

Lois Lowry

Publisher:

Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Page Count:

208

ISBN #:

9780385732550

Website:

Publication Date:

January 24, 2006


Description:

The community in The Giver is free of sickness, crime, emotional pain and suffering but at what price? Eleven-year-old Jonas is slowly discovering the cost society has paid by its citizens for such security. "Coming of age" for Jonas may be more than he can bear when faced with his community's history. All aspects of a citizen's life are decided by departments within society, for example a citizen's parents, spouse and career are chosen for him/her. The career chosen for Jonas sets him apart from everyone else in society and also opens a vault of secrets that will certainly change his point of view on the "perfect" community he thought he was living in.

 


Thoughts on the book: (spoiler alert)

The Giver made clear, in an extreme sense, how things can turn bad, even when everything appears to be perfect, when people accept their environment unconditionally. For Jonas becoming the Receiver of all memories for his society is a staggering way to come of age. Can he respect a society that maintains its security at the expense of some and under a code that ethically seems terribly wrong?


 

Another question that came to mind while reading The Giver: Is there a benefit to a community issuing jobs to citizens that can't quite figure out a career for themselves, instead of handing out welfare, unemployment or even in some cases disability checks?

 


Favorite quote:
           

"Better to steer clear of an occasion governed by a rule which would be so easy to break."
            --Lois Lowry The Giver

 

 

The Hobbit Book Cover


Title:

The Hobbit

Author:

J.R.R. Tolkien

Publisher:

Harper Collins (1991)

Page Count:

256

ISBN #:

9780261102668

Website:

 

Publication Date:

September 21, 1937

 

Description:

A day well spent for a hobbit is curled up in front of a warm fire with a full pipe after second breakfast. Bilbo's quiet home is turned upside down when the wizard Gandalf shows up at his door talking of a mysterious adventure that Bilbo must set out on right away with a determined group of demanding dwarves. Where will this journey lead him?


Thoughts on the book:

Home is where the heart is and leaving home is one of the hardest choices an individual has to make. But leaving home is what builds character and creates independence and bigger purpose in life. Bilbo's adventure turns into a journey of self-discovery as much as it helps his friends. Outside of the comfort of what he's used to, Bilbo stretches himself to overcome obstacles that would stand between him and his goal; something that would have never occurred in the safe boundaries of the Shire.

 


A question that came to mind while reading The Hobbit:

What's the benefit of moving away from a hometown?

 


Favorite quote:

"It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him."
            J.R.R. Tolkien The Hobbit

 

 

 

 

Title:

Swann's Way

Author:

Marcel Proust

Publisher:

Viking Adult (September 11, 2003)

Page Count:

496

ISBN #:

067003245X

Website:

Publication Date:

1913

 

Description:
The narrator of Swann's Way tells, true to character, the thoughts and emotions of a young boy's frustration and wonder toward the adult world around him. The observations sweep the reader into the meticulously described French society of the late 19th century.


Thoughts:
Swann's way is filled with beautiful description that is easy to become entranced in. One of the most moving and perfectly captured moments of youth is when the narrator describes being forced to go to bed without a kiss goodnight from his mother. Proust captures the frustration, determination, and inconsolable longing that a child expresses when they feel  they have been unfairly told "No." The narrator describes the escalation to frenzy so well that by the end, the reader gives a big sigh of relief when the child finally finds solace.


A few questions that kept coming to mind while reading Swann's Way:
As adults do we lose touch with the simple needs that create overwhelming anxiety and longing in childhood? How can we stay in touch with these memories in order to better understand and more easily relate to the struggles of children?


Favorite quote:
"And so I must set forth without viaticum; must climb each step of the staircase, 'against my heart,' as the saying is, climbing in opposition to my heart's desire, which was to return to my mother, since she had not, by kissing me, given my heart leave to accompany me."
                        --Marcel Proust Swann's Way


 

The Outsiders  Book Cover


Title:

The Outsiders

Author:

S. E. Hinton

Publisher:

Speak (November 1, 1997)

Page Count:

192

ISBN #:

014038572X

Website:

 

Publication Date:

1967

 

Description:

Ponyboy can count on his brothers. And on his friends. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose ideas of a good time is beating up "greasers" like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect until the night someone takes things too far.


Thoughts on the book:

Ponyboy reflects on how hard life is for him and his friends, at home their broken or abusive families are barely keeping it together, at school it's tough to focus and keep up, on the street it's hard to stay out of trouble, it seems like they never quite get a break. And for those people whose lives are a little better it's easy to point fingers and say, they need to get it together, no excuses, but is it so easy to change something when you can't recognize the origin of the problem? Ponyboy's best friend Johnny was the quiet one who liked to read and stay out of trouble, yet he's the one swept into trouble when assaulted by an opposing gang. The Outsiders is an important example of the added pressures and struggles that at-risk kids face when coming-of-age.

 


A question that came to mind while reading The Outsiders:

Is the capability of limiting the alienation of a child or groups of children within reach of the public school system, what are some actions that could be taken?


Favorite quote:

"'It ain't fair!' I cried passionately. 'It ain't fair that we have all the rough breaks!'"
            --S.E. Hinton The Outsiders

 

 

To Kill A Mockingbird Book Cover


Title:

To Kill a Mockingbird

Author:

Harper Lee

Publisher:

HarperCollins (October 17, 2006)

Page Count:

336

ISBN #:

0061205699

Website:

 

Publication Date:

1960


Description:
One man stands unjustly accused of a horrific crime, and because of the color of his skin the public sees him as guilty, a closed case, but there are a small few who look past prejudices and recognize him for his good character and noble actions.
Harper Lee beautifully portrays the innocence of youth, coming of age in a time of broken morals and twisted values. The rich description and humorous interactions between the children are entrancing, but the unbreakable bond of family is what makes this story so hard to put down.

 


Thoughts:
Narrated by a nine-year-old girl whose father takes the case of Tom Robinson, an unjustly accused man, To Kill a Mockingbird is an important account of what happens to society when unethical values are accepted as a standard, and the uphill battle that follows for the few who have the courage to stand up against the corrupt thinking of a majority. The children struggle to make sense of the injustices happening around them by people they know and trust, but hypocrisy and malicious treatment are hard to stomach.

 


A few questions that came to mind while reading To Kill a Mockingbird:
History and traditions are passed on from one generation of family members to the next, and aren't easily forgotten.  For people of today who have never known slavery, but it is part of their family's history, does society take into account the affects of this serious but distant oppression on current generations?
If an entire past society is capable of accepting racism as a standard, and laws are created to support it, is society today also accepting, supporting and justifying marginalization of groups of people that will be recognized as shameful to future generations?

 


Favorite quote:
"...before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."
            --Harper Lee To kill a Mockingbird

 

 

 

 

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