The novel of adolescence (or coming-of-age novel) describes key parts of a young person's passage into adulthood. Experiencing conflicting influences of one or several crises, the protagonist has to make his/her choice. In the process of growing up, the young person investigates into his/her identity and individuality. He/she acquires a growing self-understanding, an aim in life and an individual set of values. If the passage is completed, the young person is finally ready to face adult life.
JEROME D. SALINGER's, The Catcher in the Rye (1951) and SAUL BELLOW's, The Adventures of Augie March (1953) both have an episodic structure. They are built around a line of experiences and sometimes emotionally disturbing, difficult or unpleasant encounters the young protagonist has with various people.
If the main concern of the novel is the inner process of growing up, introspection will be given more importance than the presentation of an intricate or thrilling plot. CARSON MCCULLERS' (1917–1967), The Member of the Wedding (1946) and the sections of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1943), dedicated to the girl Mick, concentrate on the inner development of the protagonist. Much space is given to the presentation of moods, reflections and feelings from the protagonist's point of view.
- JAMES JOYCE, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916);
- STAN BARSTOW, Joby (1964);
- BARRY HINES, Kes (1968);
- PAUL AUSTER, Moon Palace (1989)