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coming of age

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Hild by Nicola Griffith

Set in 7th century Britain, this coming of age story narrates the early life and young adulthood of the girl who will become abbess St. Hild of Whitby, whose advice was sought by religious and political leaders. Griffith’s telling evokes a richly detailed world that is so different from our own that it’s virtually alien. Born into a pagan world where power is often brokered by marriage alliances between kingdoms,  Christianity is on the rise. Hild’s preternatural observations of human nature and keen political acumen secure her place as her uncle, the king’s, seer and “peaceweaver”.

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

If Taylor Greer can manage to graduate high school without getting pregnant, she can manage anything. Ready for an adventure and a life better than what is offered in her small town in Kentucky, Taylor heads West in an old VW Bug. But before her car dies in Tucson, Arizona, and she begins her new life working at Jesus is Lord Auto Repair, Taylor becomes the one thing she worked so hard to avoid--a mother--after a stranger gives her a 3 year old. This is an awesome story with great characters, funny moments (and some heartbreaking ones), and a satisfying ending.

The Last Days of California: A Novel by Mary Miller

Fifteen year old Jess is headed for California to witness the apocalypse. Accompanied by her fundamentalist parents caught up in end-of-the-world fervor and a rebellious older sister this coming-of-age road trip captures the tortured conflict between a desire to believe in something bigger than oneself and the ubiquity of popular culture’s pull. Narrated with pitch perfect skill Miller captures the heart and heartbreak of adolescence.

A Student of Weather by Elizabeth Hay

Eight-year-old Norma Joyce and her 17-year-old sister Lucinda are living with their widowed father on a wind-swept farm in 1930s Saskatchewan when a stranger blows into town and changes their lives forever. Beautiful, fair and hard-working Lucinda is the favored daughter, compared to small, dark and challenging Norma Joyce, but each is formidable in her own way. This family story by an acclaimed Canadian author covers 30 years and takes its members from the western prairies to "heavenly" Ontario to New York City and back again, through dreams, heartbreak, love, betrayal and loss.

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

This deliciously short novel recounts the experiences of a war correspondent, her philandering poet husband, their teenage daughter, and two family friends on holiday in the hills above Nice. Just as they arrive they discover a young women, naked, in the swimming pool. For reasons not immediately obvious, the stranger is invited to stay with them in the villa. The characters in this story have interesting dimensions and their complicated relationships with each are deftly explored. Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2012.

Canada by Richard Ford

It's 1960 and the Parsons family has landed in Great Falls, Montana, where an unanticipated criminal act blasts their family apart forever. For 15-year-old Dell and his twin sister, Berner, nothing is the same after their parents are arrested for robbing a North Dakota bank. 50 years later, Dell recalls the pivotal three months of his life when boring normalcy was turned upside down and he discovered the violence and moral chaos lying just beneath the surface of everyday life.

In One Person by John Irving

As an adolescent, Billy Abbott was preoccupied with having crushes on the wrong people: a lusty librarian, his stepfather, the wrestling star at his all-boys prep school. John Irving's newest novel, In One Person, is narrated by adult Billy as he looks back on life and shares the details of past relationships and sexual encounters, the books he read, the places he traveled, and tender moments and conflicts between his family members.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: a Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston

An unusual format, a fully illustrated scrapbook, makes this period romance unique.  Frankie Pratt receives a scrapbook, her father's old typewriter and a letter of acceptance to Vassar for her high school graduation in 1920 and begins to record her world.  Caroline Preston does a remarkable job creating Frankie's voice through the small snippets of conversation and captions she uses on each scrapbook page.   True to the way one really keeps a scrapbook it only hits the highlights, an almost disasterous romance before college gets a few gushing pages, the first tough year a

Emily Hudson by Melissa Jones

Emily Hudson, a penniless orphan who lost her family to consumption and fever, is forced to accept the grudging hospitality of her aunt and uncle.  Emily does not fit into the dour straitlaced Cornford household where the least show of enthusiasm is deemed inappropriate.  Her cousin William, a novelist,  takes an interest in her watching every emotion and reaction as if thinking about how he would write the scene in a novel, even going so far as to interfere in events to create situations to observe.   Ultimately the novel is about how Emily learns to stand up for

Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch

In this Dickensian tale Jaffy, a fearless street urchin, is almost eaten by a Bengal tiger. Saved by the titular Jamrach, a jovial dealer in exotic animals who, impressed by his fearlessnes, hires him as a trainer, Jaffy meets slick talking Tim, another Jamrach protege, and his twin sister Ishbel. Tim and Jaffy become best friends. Which does not mean that their relationship is uncomplicated. The fact that Jaffy's heart is captured by Ishbel makes that a given.

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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