Cormac McCarthy - All the Pretty Horses
Although it’s a McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses, doesn’t necessarily break up the list of coming of age / first romances that seems to be unfolding on this list – but it does so in a characteristically McCarthy way. I read this on one of my first trips to Austin and couldn’t put it down – except to think about hitting the road south for Mexico. If you have seen the film, try to leave it at the door and let this novel take on a life of its own. His prose is often without par, making you stop short and re-read sentences with a respect for his skill level. His characters are dense and raw, taking on a real presence with you as you read it that is not often attainable for many writers.
Zadie Smith - White Teeth
Smith made herself noticed instantly with this amazing first novel. It offers you a view into South London and the ethnic melange of cultures that is contemporary England. Exploring the lives of two kids from very different cultures raised in an area of South London, falling in love and dealing with the fallout, White Teeth enraptured me with its characters and their backgrounds, while doing so with a sense of humanity and insight into the struggles of many immigrant communities, all framed in the context of a universal story of coming of age and first romance.
Eden Robinson - Monkey Beach
For anyone travelling up the Northwest Coast – either on a fishing trip or an exploration of the Haida Gwaii, this book is for you. Robinson, a young Haisla/Heiltsuk writer from Kitimat, B.C., received several well-deserved accolades for this stunning novel, including a Giller nod. Set in Kitamaat Village, it’s an enthralling story of two youth growing up in this remote setting and all that comes with that – dealing with getting older, falling in love, grief and loss.
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