July 28, 2012

Coming of Age

Everybody goes through those awkward tween and teen years where you are trying to find your place in the world.

You're not a kid anymore but not an adult and there is a lot that comes with that.

I'm going to be 20 years old this year, leaving my teenage years behind and it's scary. I feel like just yesterday I was turning 13, ready to embark on my adolescent years and all the drama that would come with it.

These years have definitely been rocky but I got through them...barely, but I got through them. I've had a lot of help though and received a lot of advice from my family, my friends, or quotes that just got me through the day.

One thing that I think I owe a lot of my teen years to is books.

I'm a book nerd, if I haven't mentioned that already; I read more than the average person and I could read a book in a day if I wanted to.

Reading books about teenagers who are going through the same stuff you are (maybe on a more exaggerated level) really helps a lot. They clear the sky for you and say the things you're afraid to say or say the things that you need to hear the most.

I owe keeping my insanity throughout the past six years of my life to an eclectic group of characters.

1. Catcher and the Rye


Everyone has a touch of Holden Caulfield inside of them; a boy with a tragedy who is a bit rebellious but nonetheless, just misunderstood. He is the ultimate literary character and when you read his journey through the troubles of teenage years, you'll learn more about yourself...and life. 

2. The Perks of Being a Wall Flower


Charlie is a bit introverted; he's awkward, a little slow, and doesn't have many friends. ...but he seems okay with that. Like Holden, Charlie is a bit like all of us in some way. Then he meets two people who change his life and make him who he is. Reading this book gave me such happiness and taught me so much about what it means to be alive. It's hard to explain in words but this will forever be one of my favorite books. It's flawless. 

3. Harry Potter

Do I  even need to explain this one? It's our childhood...we are the Harry Potter generation; even if you never read the books or saw the movies, you still lived through this epic saga of wizards, dark lords, Hogwarts, and growing up. We went on the journey with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. We were there from the beginning when we didn't know where Harry was headed and stuck with him till the end, when he defeated Voldemort. Harry Potter is the ultimate coming of age book, if you haven't read it, you haven't lived properly.

4. Looking For Alaska


This is the same category as Charlie and Holden; Miles Halter is sent off to boarding school where he meets a girl who drive him insane, Alaska. The book has the same tone that "Catcher" and "Wallflower" have...a distraught boy, growing up, and learning how to love and how to live. It might seem a bit repetitive but it's a must read. Plus, John Green is one of the greatest authors of our time. 

5. The Outsiders


Greasers, Socs, murder...it all comes together in "The Outsiders". You probably had to read this in school, that's where I read it and where I fell in love with it. Ponyboy and Johnny and the rest of the Greasers are hoodlums, boys with shitty home lives and band together in this group where they take care of the rest. It teaches you that you can build a family, build a home anywhere...it doesn't have to be blood related people or a fancy house...you could have a family and a home with anyone who loves you truly.

6. The Secret Life of Bees



A story about a girl who believes she killed her mother; she goes on a journey to escape her abusive father and find her mother's "nanny". It's the 1960s during segregated times when blacks were still considered lower class. Lily wants to know more about her mother, who died when she was a baby. On the journey she takes by herself, she finds a home and people who love her dearly. This was also a mandatory read in high school and everyone just ate this book up. It's incredible.

7. Speak


This is a book that I think everyone has read. A teenage girl gets raped at a party and completely shuts herself out from the world. She doesn't talk to anyone for months, she doesn't tell anyone about the rape. She keeps in inside herself, driving herself nuts. Another school read, another wonderful, heart wrenching book.

8.The Fault in Our Stars




The other books I have listed are pretty old...definitely not written within the past five years but now we have something that is very recent and truly wonderful. The story of Hazel, a cancer patient who attends a cancer support group where she meets Augustus, another cancer survivor. The two of them strike up a friendship which quickly turns into full blown teenage romance. It's the most beautiful love story of two teenagers who were forced to grow up very fast. They make each other's dreams come true and truly teach us what it means to live life to the fullest and to fall in love with whatever makes you happy, despite the struggles.

9. Stargirl

When I first read this book, I HATED IT. I thought it was stupid and weird and I just didn't understand it. And that is exactly why I appreciate it so much more now. In a straight edge highschool, Stargirl comes to town and blows everyone away, especially Leo. She is odd, very very odd. Stargirl is eccentric, she does not care what people think of her. At first, Leo is thrown off guard, he's a follower and thinks like the rest of the people at Mica Highschool...he doesn't like Stargirl. She's too different. But then, something changes and he falls for her, head over heels and she teaches him, she teaches the rest of the us that there is no greater reward in life than being different and just being yourself.

10. Anything written by Sarah Dessen.


There are too many to pick. She is one of my favorite authors and I've read almost every book that she's written. There is something about the way she writes for teenage girls and the message that is the same, yet different in all her books. Us girls need to hear that things will turn out alright in the end, we need a message, a quote, a story to put into our heads and listen to. Sarah Dessen gives us that in many different ways, with many different books, with different characters. You could definitely find a Sarah Dessen book to be your best friend.

All these books sounds the same, they have the same message, and some might be too similar but they all have one thing in common.

They have taught me more about life and friendship and love than anything in the world. These books have gotten me through everything and I am a better person because I read them and lived in their world.

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