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More than just your average coming of age story

Originally posted on Wed, Jun 23 2010 at ROPL.org.

Tired of vampires, werewolves and zombies? Looking for something different, something a bit more realistic? Look no further! Francisco X. Stork’s two brilliant novels might be just what you’re looking for.

In Marcelo in the Real World, we’re introduced to the wonderful character of Marcelo. A high school student who suffers from something akin to Asperger’s, Marcelo attends a special school for students with learning disabilities. His father, a high profile lawyer, wants his son to attend a regular high school and issues his son a challenge. If Marcelo spends the summer working for his father, he’ll be able to stay at his special school. Marcelo agrees and what transpires is one of the most beautiful, moving stories you’ll ever read.

Stork’s most recent novel, The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, is another coming of age story with a twist. Like Marcelo, Pancho is a 17 year old trying to figure out his life. But unlike Marcelo, Pancho has no family to support him. His father was killed in an accident, leaving Pancho to care for his mentally disabled older sister. But when she’s found dead, Pancho is turned over to Catholic orphanage. Bent on revenge after feeling the police have failed him, Pancho wants no friends. His only goal is to find out who killed his sister. But as with Stork’s previous novel, all is not as it seems. Pancho meets DQ, another teenager, who changes his life, even while Pancho is fighting that very change.

Both of these novels are located in the teen section, but are exquisitely written and extraordinarily thoughtful. They’re appropriate for both teens and adults, and both will leave you satisfied. Though Storks’ two books are coming of age stories, they don’t rely on solely on the overused boy meets girl clichés. Instead, they are contemporary stories that we can all identify with, in one way or another.

More coming of age novels with a twist:

  • Right Behind You by Gail Giles
  • Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  • Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns by John Green
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
  • Me, the Missing, and the Dead by Jenny Valentine
  • Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan
  • Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron
  • Hero-Type by Barry Lyga

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