One of the reasons I love yalit is the coming of age theme that runs throughout it. Coming of age stories come in all shapes and sizes--naturally, because our lives have many different problems and concerns. At the core, coming of age stories are looking at identity and transitions. Transitions from childhood to adolescence to adulthood...and, well, I believe we are all transitioning all the time so coming of ages stories are relevant to all of us.
Although these stories can come across as melodramatic or angst-y at times, I think they are pretty awesome. Coming of age stories allow us to learn something about the human experience. They give readers the ability to play out different scenarios in their mind, to explore new ideas and to see how other people experience the world--and they are often very beautiful.
One of my favourite coming of age stories is Converting Kate. What I love about this book is the theme of religion--a rarely tackled topic in the coming of age genre. Transitioning to adulthood is a time of exploration when trying out new ideas and ideologies is like exercise for the mind--totally essential for your health. This book beautifuly illustrates this experience.
Converting Kate explores the effects of being raised in a strong religious tradition. 16-year-old Kate's world is rocked when her father passes away and she is torn from her home in Arizona. She and her fundamentalist mother move to Maine to help her Aunt run a bed and breakfast. Thrust into a new community and grieving her father, Kate, who has long been questioning her faith, begins to reveal her true feelings to her mother. Having been raised in the fictitious Church of the Holy Divine, Kate has followed a long list of commandments unwaveringly--only reading church-approved materials, always wearing a skirt, never going to the mall, fasting every Sunday and the list goes on and on and on. For the first time Kate refuses to go to church, igniting a lasting debate with her mother. Kate's inner conflict is illustrated through her narrative of sorting through her thoughts and feelings and pulling her own ideas away from the inner dialogue of her church. Kate emerges as a strong-willed, independent thinker and realizes that there is more to the world than her very censored, sheltered upbrining allowed her to explore.
It's a lovely depiction of the difficult and common experience of the faith crisis by debut author, Becky Weinheimer.
As I said, religion is a rarely tackled topic in the coming of age genre--have any good reads to suggest?