Early spring is always a time for change. It’s that time of the year when things are growing again after going through all the phases, and it’s time for the sun to shine brightly and to feel refreshed. This is what the list for this month is made up of: life-changing decisions and marked transformations. These are all books in which we see the character growing up, in more ways than one, before our eyes and proving that growth is a process marked not by years, but by experience.
Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern
This book follows the lives and story of two friends since they were barely five. It is the story of Alex and Rosie’s growth alongside one another, but it’s Rosie whose name is in the title – and for good reason, too. We primarily follow events through Rosie’s correspondence with Alex and other people around her, and we can see how much she changes and matures with the experiences she goes through. We see her as a cute child, unsure teenager, stressed but fighting mother, supportive friend and so much more. Through it all, one thing does not waver: her humor. You laugh and you cry (read: weep) with Rosie; you sympathize and you reprimand. You transform, change and grow up just as much as she does.
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
After he wakes up injured, on a plane and unaware of what has happened to him or how he’d gotten to where he was, James Frey is faced with his desperate need for help. What began as a defiant addict unable and unwilling to invest time or effort in treatment he did not believe in eventually ended in an equally defiant and disbelieving 23 year old who wanted to get his life together and stop the journey he’d been on since he’d first hit his teens. A sobering roller-coaster ride, this book will give you an entirely new perspective on what it means to flip your life right side up.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Though essentially a children’s/young adults’ book, Wonder is one of my favorites. About a ten-year-old boy, August, with a physical deformity, the book makes us count our blessings. More than just that, it’s about August’s decision to join normal school after being home-schooled his entire life. As he makes that drastic change, he has to work to come to terms with it, and so does everyone in his life. The story is not just about August’s growth, but everyone else’s, including his parents and older sister. It is about our growth as society and the need to accept – and celebrate – difference. This is a book I would highly recommend you read and then pass on to your children.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Redemption is essentially what this story offers. A young Afghani boy is faced with a hard choice very early on and shrinks back. Years later, after he’s fled his country’s war with his father, built a life in America and grown into a man, Amir goes back to Afghanistan on a trip to make things right, for both himself and those he’s wronged. It is a book about living with guilt for years, growing up and taking the step to redeem yourself in your own eyes.
I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
What if you were given the chance to change the world at 19? What if you were given the chance to just change you? Ed Kennedy, an uneventful teenage cabdriver, is handed exactly that as he starts getting mysterious tasks from an unknown stranger, who entrusts him with messages for other people he doesn’t know. These messages are meant not only to impact their recipients, but also to force the messenger himself out of his comfort zone. Ed’s journey makes him and the reader contemplate our lives, their value and their meaning, They push us out of our comfort zones.
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Holden Caulfield is the epitome of a teenage male character who feels out of place. His short story, a short of his experience after getting expelled from prep school is one that resonates with anyone who feels like an outsider. Holden feels alienated and it depresses him. He notices and comments on the fake personas of everybody around him and he cannot bring himself to fit in. As he tries to sort life out, he also has to decide what he’ll do after the expulsion. The emotion and depth to Holden’s thoughts are very raw and they make his growing-up experience all the more powerful.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Obviously heavily inspired by and modeled after Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the book adds a few elements to become its own masterpiece. The main character, young Edgar Sawtelle, is born mute to a family of loving parents and an especially caring and gifted breed of dogs. His early years pass by smoothly enough, but when tragedy strikes his farm, Edgar is forced to flee with only three of his dogs to keep him company. His journey out in the wilderness teaches him things he could have never experienced in his sheltered life back home and makes him grow up completely differently. It also forces him to question things that he must go back and challenge. A story of a disabled boy who makes the most of the life he’s given and stands up for what is rightfully his is also about growing up into a mature, reliable and strong human being, regardless of the obstacles and/or challenges.