Growing up does have its share of trials and tribulations and plenty of novels capture that experience. Looking back, it may seem that childhood was indeed some kind of ephemeral but perfect period for many of us, but it did have its ups and downs. The novels here talk about a variety of emotions and experiences- how the scars of childhood bullying never truly leave us, how even if you run away from home you can’t ever run away from yourself and how the lives of those raised in extremely conservative families never truly bloom.
So take a look at these novels:
1. Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood: Elaine Risley is a controversial painter who’s most vivid memories of childhood feature a girl named Cordelia- someone who was once her best friend and her worst enemy. Unlike the other kids at school, Elaine didn’t have a conventional childhood with constant travelling and forays into the countryside, and is frequently bullied for being different by people she had come to trust. These experiences haunt her throughout her growing up years as an art student and feminist and it affects all her other relationships with people. In the end, with her fame and success, it may seem that Elaine has won against Cordelia, who becomes a murkier figure, but is it really so?
2. Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami: This novel combines two distinct plotlines into a multi-layered narrative. While the even chapters tell the story of Nakata who having lost most of his mental faculties has an uncanny ability to communicate with cats, the odd chapters deal with a 15-year old boy who chooses the name ‘Kafka’ for himself and runs away from his father’s house to escape an Oedipal curse. But how successful is he, in the end? Is he the ‘toughest fifteen-year old in the world’ as he claims to be? Blending magic realism and suspense, this is a surreal novel that you have to read at least more than once to understand what’s really happening below the surface.
3. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides: This novel offers a voyeuristic view into the lives of the five Lisbon sisters who grow up under the watchful glare of their conservative parents. These girls who are allowed only one chaperoned date in their brief lives,and grow up in utter seclusion, have become a kind of a legend for the neighbourhood boys who refuse to see them as people and instead turn their lives to some childhood myth in their reminiscences. Written in luminous prose that often borders on poetry, the novel chronicles a tale of family as well as suburban disintegration and is infected by a grim wistfulness for things past and never to be.
So which are your favourite growing up novels? Let us know in the comments below!