Relating to coming-of-age narratives because of our own memories of youth

  Relating to coming-of-age stories is only natural, because each person must face and navigate major changes throughout life. Like these young characters in these stories, each of us, young, middle aged or old, are having to confront life changes. We also relate to these struggling youthful characters, because we remember our own hardships at that age. Though adults, we remember being lonely, insecure, uncertain kids.

Middle school (or Junior High School) is fraught with anxiety. Worries about peer pressure, personal appearance, friendships (or lack of them) plagued me. As I compared notes with peers over the years, I was not alone. Although I was generally quite well-supported, even my family could jump to the conclusion that my drama and grumpiness were random annoyances. However, those emotional ups and downs are symptoms of the worries and struggles. These challenges are a very real part of an early coming-of-age passage.

Relating to coming-of-age tales, because even adult parents face life changes.

  I was not the only one in my family navigating new challenges. Now, I see that my parents were experiencing their own rites of passage. They had been parents of a thirteen-year-old girl before, but that was thirteen years ago. Now they were parents of an entirely different girl. Mom and Dad were raising her in the late sixties, a different time period than my sister experienced, and vastly different than my parents upbringing. Furthermore, Mom and Dad were 49 and 55 years old respectively with clearly different, lower energy levels. My mother’s health began the decline that led to her early death after my Freshman year in university. Time and circumstance required them to confront and meet unprecedented changes.

My mother reads a letter at our rural mail box. I tag along in my stroller.

My mother reads a letter at our rural mail box. I tag along in my stroller. She was coming of age as an older mother.

My father at forty-two years begins raising his second only child.

My father at forty-two years begins raising his second only child. He was coming of age as a  midlife father.

Relating to coming-of-age stories and writing about them.

  I am going through my own rite of passage. As a grandmother I have a markedly different energy level than I have ever known before. Jeans with holes oddly irritate me, even though I wore “experienced” jeans myself back in the day. On the other hand, I find myself more patient with middle school foibles because I experienced my own. I am less patient with unkindness, but less likely to confront petty irritations. Life is speeding by. No point in wasting breath over foolishness. I can still relate with compassion and understanding with the young ones facing life’s challenges. I return to writing about these challenges again and again.

Author Gale Holt holding a little curly, golden dog.

I am finding new patience with my little dog, Ali. I have been coming of age as a grandmother and empty nester.

Young, old, and in between all navigate life’s changes.

  So, this is why my coming-of-age books could be considered fitting for young adult fiction readers, yet appropriate for parents and grandparents as well. Each character in my novels is navigating some life change. Every character may be bruised and battered through these changes. Bruised people either bruise and batter each other, or they find a way to walk through struggles together. We are all coming-of-age however old we are. It is always my goal to open a small window of understanding, grace, and humor for us all.

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