Some of my favorite short stories and novels are written from the point of view of a child. Authors who have the ability to think like a child, and write about the world from that perspective are inspiring. Its hard enough to write successful dialogue, but to pair it with inflictions, innocence, and imagination of someone much younger is beyond creative. The following authors trick us into believing they themselves are as young as the main characters in their novels.
1. A Red Herring Without Mustard (Flavia De Luce Series) by Alan Bradley
Flavia De Luce is hysterical in this novel, and within the entire series. This clumsy, quizzical, child-chemist is as nosey as it gets. She takes it upon her self to solve mysteries before the likes of anyone else, including the police. Not only will she have you laughing, but her sibling-rivalry will give you reminiscent vibes of growing up with an annoying brother or sister. Siblings: Can’t live them, can’t live without them!
2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Who doesn’t love Scout? A strong girl who struggles with the pressure to be lady-like, Scout uses her fists to solve her problems. She is a brave young girl in changing times where racism is rampant, and the divide because class in Alabama is heartbreaking. To Kill A Mockingbird undeniably altered my views on humanity. Part of high school curriculum — as it should be — I often wonder if I would have ever picked up Harper Lee’s most poignant piece of writing on my own.
3. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
A long 900 page read, David Copperfield is the story of a boy as he carries on through life into adulthood. Its full of strange family dynamics, saddening abuse, and, of course, love. Dickens has a way of making even the most word ridden books interesting. Better yet, he created a brilliant perspective of a boy in this true, harrowing, coming of age story.
4. Room by Emma Donoghue
Inspired by a true criminal case (Felix in the Fritzl case), Donoghue created Jack. He is a five year old who sleeps in a wardrobe within a small room. The room is where he and his mother are being held captive. In the beginning of the story, Jack is an innocent boy, used to his surroundings. A man named “Old Nick” comes into their room every night and when he does, Jack is ushered into the wardrobe where he is to be silent. After a while, Jack starts causing trouble, and eventually his Ma has to fill him in on their captivity. Jack becomes a brave five year old as he helps his Ma hatch an escape plan. By the end of this book, your heart will belong to Jack and his love of life despite the confines he and his mother are physically suffocated by.
5. The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley
Leo Colston is an elderly man who comes across a journal he wrote in during the summer of 1900. This book is about the events of that summer, and how they affected his entire life. Being one to reminisce about summer days before work and adulting, I wish I had kept a journal of summer events; perhaps I would learn a little about myself from a younger mes point of view.
6. The Taxi Driver’s Daughter by Julia Darling
A comedic read is good for the soul, and young Caris is a laugh inducing narrator. Darling’s novel is about a young girl trying to figure out how to get what she desires and everything else getting in her path. The characters command your attention, but not in a dominating sense. Instead, each character needs your understanding as a reader, and that is simply wonderful. The writing style is unique, and totally quirky, making you hang on to every word.
7. The Night Rainbow by Claire King
One thing I find most awe-inspiring is when an author can literate grief and sadness through the eyes of a child. King conquers this tall order with grace and whimsical prose. The story is told through the eyes of Pea, who has an older sister, and a mother. Her mother has just lost her husband, and her unborn child. Pea is sensitive to her mother’s state, and tries her hardest to improve it. The story is both heartwarming and devastating to read about a child picking up on, and trying to mend, adult feelings. Pea may be five and a half, but she is wise beyond her years.
These books are harrowing, funny, and timeless. They remind me of my childhood, while also forcing me to realize how lucky I had it as a kid.
What stories have you read that were told by the refreshingly naive voice of a child?
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h/t Signature Reads