“I’m pretty sure it was hearing S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, which was read to my Grade 5 class by Mr. Smith at Dr. John Seaton Public School, that turned me into a reader. I likely had no idea what a coming-of-age novel was at the time, but I did notice that while the melodramatic and often violent experiences of Ponyboy Curtis and his close-knit friends had nothing to do with my life, there seemed some overlap in how we saw the world. Later on, I would recognize that coming-of-age novels often covered universal themes — loss of innocence, family dynamics, the search for identity, sexual awakening, the need for connection – but the roads to these truths were all over the map. After all, there is nothing typical about teenage Mennonite Irma Voth’s road trip to Mexico City with her sisters. There is nothing typical about 14-year-old Bone’s pilgrimage from poverty and abuse in a small blue-collar town to Jamaica. There is nothing typical about Jim Graham’s fight for survival in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. My favourite coming-of-age novels are the ones that offer a wide and colourful range of human experiences but arrive at elemental truths about the human condition.”
Eric Volmers was born in Cambridge, Ont. and has lived in Calgary for the past 17 years. For most of that time, he was worked as a journalist covering the arts for Postmedia with a special interest in books. He reads a lot.