Top 4 Stories About Growing Up (or Not)

(DGIwire) – The journey from child to adult is a memorable one. No matter whether its choppy waves are traversed successfully or not, there is bound to be some confusion, complexity and (hopefully) fun. This journey has long been a fascinating subject for writers—some drawing on their own experiences, some imagining fanciful scenarios. Here are four of the most classic tales in this genre:

  • The Catcher in the Rye: Holden Caulfield’s experiences are the archetypal chronicle of teenage alienation, angst and identity crisis. J.D. Salinger brilliantly portrays Holden as bored but never boring, pretentious but interesting, and searching for meaning in life.
  • Great Expectations: Charles Dickens masterfully weaves the notion of potential transformation into these pages. Will Pip transform into a man of great expectations? Will Estella ride herself of the malignant influence of Miss Havisham? As always, only time will tell.
  • Jane Eyre: Charlotte Bronte’s revolutionary novel is a primary example of the bildungsroman genre, containing the titular character’s transformation from child to adult—and all the attendant emotional changes that entails. Dissecting the book for this transformation is a fascinating exercise.
  • Peter Pan: Although it features a boy who never grows up, J.M. Barrie’s classic novel skillfully whisks Peter and his young friends through a series of fanciful adventures that introduce them to the outside world—with a mix of memorable locales and situations that would daunt much older travelers.

“Although Peter and his friends are young, their main nemesis—Captain Hook—is an adult,” notes John Leonard Pielmeier. “One is led to wonder about Hook’s own transition from childhood to adult and how he became the person he is.”

Hook’s Tale, the debut novel by Pielmeier—whose successful plays, television movies and miniseries include Agnes of God, Gifted Hands, Choices of the Heart and The Memory Keeper’s Daughter—addresses this very question. Set in the world of J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan, it explores the childhood of the much-maligned Captain Hook: his quest for buried treasure, his friendship with Peter Pan and the story behind the swashbuckling world of Neverland.

As we learn in these pages, Captain James Cook (a/k/a Hook)—long defamed as a vicious pirate—was in fact a dazzling wordsmith who left behind a vibrant, wildly entertaining and entirely truthful memoir. His chronicle offers a counter-narrative to the works of Barrie, a “dour Scotsman” whose spurious accounts got it all wrong.

“I have portrayed Hook’s transition from child to adult as a memorable coming-of-age story in its own right,” Pielmeier adds.

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