A book with a young main character opens a window onto the life of a child, an adolescent or young adult on the start of their journey. We might be looking to make comparisons with our own growing up, a rite of passage we remember from our time at school, at college or in a first job. Or, alternatively we could be searching for a coming-of age-story set in a different country, culture or time to the one we know intimately ourselves. All are here – in all their joy and their pain.
These writers can make the voice of a child convincing and remind you of what childhood felt like from the inside. A juvenile narrator, perhaps a teenager or in their early twenties, may be unpractised and inexperienced, but can see things sharply that older folk may have flattened out. There is often a rawness to the experience of growing up, an honesty – and maybe that’s where the appeal of these books with youthful protagonists lies.