A typical life has four great transition events — passages. Birth and death, of course, frame a life span. Both happen at a precise moment. And like them, marriage happens all at once, often in the midst of our culture’s most elaborate ritual. Coming of age, the passage from childhood to adulthood, however, is a long journey, often spanning a decade. And the transition has become even more drawn out in these times. It is mostly a private affair with various cultural markers such as entering high school, acquiring a driver’s license, or turning twenty-one. But there is no defining observance.
Perhaps the lack of coming of age rituals hinder the process of maturity in contemporary American culture. Each adolescent follows a private journey of fits and starts. The selections in this book can provide the insight and resources for fashioning a meaningful coming of age ritual for an adolescent in your family.
The poems, quotations, and readings of this coming of age collection chronicle the physical, behavioral, and emotional changes of adolescences. Many selections reflect the adult perspective and are poignant with memory of and concern for growing up.
The selections in these pages will strike you as real and earthy. Whether you have attained adulthood or are arching toward it, these words and the many meanings they convey will help you better understand the challenges and triumphs of becoming one’s essential self.
Wishing you affirmation and expectation,
Skinner House Books, December 2006.