When we say kids are growing up too fast, I think it usually implies that the child or teenager is placed in a situation that should have been handled by his/her parents. But for some reason, they are the ones who has to take on said issue.
The parents or guardian might be dead or at the very least, incapable of or unwilling to handle reality (or life in general) for a long period of time. Additionally, a concrete support structure is either nonexistent or unaware of the main character’s plight. Hence, the child being forced to take on the burden lest the whole family suffers.
Often, what we get is a main character who is extremely self-reliant. Having experienced irresponsible or incapable parents or guardians, he grew up with a mindset of depending only (or at least mainly) on himself. Most likely, the child also matured knowing that pleading or any other form of begging would gain him little to nothing. Thus, asking for assistance is pretty hard on him. He would be more comfortable with bartering trades and services. But owing another person leaves him uncomfortable.
Simply because it doesn’t fit with his reality that someone would want to help him out of the goodness of his heart. This would also explain why most main characters of this background would have little to no close friends.
Maybe it’s just me. But I feel that it is especially tough on the girls. Hence why I decided to focus on selections that feature female main characters
I love them because they choose to face their issues head on instead of running away from it. But even if they do run away, it is temporary and they come back.
I usually attribute it to the fact that they have people depending on them to be strong. More often than not, it would be a younger sibling. Or if no younger sibling, it would be a parent or a family-substitute who the character feels she has to take care of (whether or not the opinion is truly warranted).
Whatever the relationship is, she feels a certain sense of responsibility for another’s well-being. Thus, whatever action she takes for the sake of that goal, readers generally respect her for it (even if they don’t fully approve of what she does)
So here are some books you might want to try out:
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
An alien invasion leaves Cassie an orphan and separated from her beloved baby brother. Everything she does from that point on is to get him back. But with no idea who could be ally or foe, she has her work cut out for her.
One of the books I ended up really liking! Cassie, for all intents and purposes, is an ordinary teenaged girl placed in an extraordinary situation. She doesn’t really have much knowledge in the way of firearms or self-defense prior to the Others (the aliens) coming. But Cassie had to endure and learn on her own.
This book is actually told from multiple POVs. But I find Cassie’s to be compelling (IMO). But if you like action, sci-fi and even romance that seems star-crossed (literally and figuratively), you might want to check it out.
If you liked this book, you might want to finish the series:
- The Infinite Sea – Amazon: Kindle / Paperback / Hardcover
- The Last Star – Amazon: Kindle / Paperback / Hardcover
The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Tess Kendrick is forced to live with her much older sister Ivy when it is found out that her Grandpa has severe Alzheimer’s. Her new school is pretty much a mini-Washington DC with children of the politically influential roaming its halls. And with her sister’s infamy as a fixer, the students start getting the idea to go to Tess to “fix” their problems too.
If you liked the ABC TV show Scandal but want to tone it down, I think this book is for you. If you also like a cool main character who doesn’t back down from bullies and puts them in their place (without even throwing a punch), then please give this book a try.
I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Skylar Evans has one more summer to get through until she starts college. But she is worried about her mom who seems to have started a relationship with a guy Skylar never thought her mom would go for. And then there’s Josh, who just got back to Afghanistan after losing a leg. They start working together at a motel….
Fans of Romance and coming of age stories should give this book a look. Honestly, I like how Skylar and Josh got together. It’s kinda rocky at first. But I like how the story went overall. In terms of tone, It is a lot lighter than most of the other books in this selection. So if you’re looking for something that wouldn’t make you unable to get up from the sadness, then (out of the books in this selection) this one’s for you.
Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
By the start of the novel, we find out that main character Ruby has been living on her own for months. Her mother pretty much left her to her own devices for who knows where. And thus, Ruby has to live with her estranged older sister Cora and Cora’s husband.
This (like I’ll Meet You There) is not as heavy as the other books. But it does deal with issues of abandonment and kids having to grow up too fast due to a negligent mom. While there is romance in this book, I find the charm to be more on Ruby’s relationship with her sister and brother-in-law and their dog. Maybe it’s just me, but I like books that tackle with the more unconventional relationships. It’s often parent and child. Or boyfriend or girlfriend. Or best friends. But it’s nice to see something new for a change.
The V Girl by Mya Robarts
In a dystopia where becoming what basically amounts to as a sex slave for the army is considered legal, Lila wants to lose her virginity to someone she actually chose, her best friend Rey. The “conscription” is coming and there’s always the pretty good chance she is “drafted” into service. And in comes this high-ranking General who takes a liking to her. She starts to like him but a lot of things about him triggers long-buried traumatic memories
First of all, a word of warning: this book contains a lot of graphic sexual content. But while it is very gritty and contains a lot of triggering content, I love it because I came to care for Lila and her family. And I truly wish for them to find happiness in a world that really did a number on them. But I think the main draw is Lila’s relationship to Aleksey. So romance lovers might want to take a look at this book
Paper Princess by Erin Watt
Ella Harper is forced to strip to support her mom who’s terminally ill with cancer. It is such an irony that she only learns of her millionaire father’s existence AFTER her mom’s death. With said-father being dead too, Ella is forced to stay under the care of her father’s best friend, Callum Royal. Callum, also a rich guy, has 5 sons all of whom are near her age. All of whom do not want her in their house and in their school…
From the summary alone, you can already infer that this book was probably marketed for a mature audience. So warning: Graphic Sexual Content Alert.
I love it because it reminds me of the popular anime/manga/drama Hana Yori Dango (which also has a Taiwanese version “Meteor Garden” and a Korean version Boys Before Blossoms). Basically the story of a scholarship female student in a high school for the rich and bullied by her classmates at the behest of the most popular/wealthiest student there. Nevertheless, the wealthiest student falls for the scholarship student he bullied…
So I’d say Paper Princess is (IMO) a retelling of a classic trope.
This book is a trilogy. You might want to check out the next books
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Wavy’s parents are two people who should never have children together (or with anyone else, for that matter). And this book chronicles Wavy’s life as her younger brother was born and as she meets the much older Kellen (who pretty much took on the role of protector for her and her brother).
Warning. This is considered a controversial book due to the relationship between a minor and an adult. But the book clearly shows that the adult isn’t a predator. I realize that this book might not be for everyone. But I think it’s worth the read
Personally, I love how mature Wavy is and how she goes on with life despite all the things she’s been through.
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Carey and her younger sister Jenessa live in the middle of nowhere with their mother. Except you find out that (at the start of the book) their mom hasn’t come back for weeks. And out of the blue, the father (the one who Carey’s mom claims hit them) comes to look for them.
This is a story about memory and trust. And also growing up and hope. There’s a lot of heavy stuff in this book. (Trigger Warning for rape). But I hope you check it out because most of the characters are likeable. Carey’s love and protectiveness over Jenessa shines through. And the support of her new family is also endearing. It’s just a relief to know that in spite of all the mire and sadness in this book, there’s also the hope of rising and happiness
Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig
Everyone should know better than to mess with Atlanta Burns. After all, everyone knows she protected herself from her mom’s boyfriend via rifle shot to the crotch. When a series of events leads her to become the go-to person for those who can’t defend themselves, things start to get even interesting. Unfortunately, this sets her at odds with corrupt powers-that-be.
This book deserves more love. Honestly, I love Atlanta for her strength. This is a gritty book. But I love it for the friendships Atlanta forges. No romance here. But if you love stories of a young girl standing up for both herself and others (and actually surviving & thriving), I think this is the book for you
You may wonder at the preponderance of books with these themes of “Growing Up Too Fast.” But I think the sad truth is that it happens more often than we’d like.
I can’t speak for the authors themselves. But I do suspect that their motives for writing their books is as much to raise awareness as it is to tell a story.
Take from it what you will
If you’ve read these books before, please feel free to comment and let us know what you think! If you haven’t read these books, please comment as well!