Kathy Carlton Willis

Kathy Carlton Willis shines the light through her communications firm as writer, publicist, coach, editor, speaker, and more. She’s built a network of industry connections and is affiliated with Advanced Writers and Speakers Association as well CLASSeminars. Her columns and book reviews have appeared online and in print. Kathy is a contributing author for The Reason We Speak, It Happened By Design: A Series of God-Incidence Stories, and Groovy Chicks’ Road Trip to Peace. She is editor and writer for The Christian Pulse devotions. She’s enjoyed stocking empty church library bookshelves to equip readers with tall “to be read” stacks, and is always on the hunt for her next favorite read. Check out her professional blog at http://kcwcomm.blogspot.com and her Website at http://www.kathycarltonwillis.com/. KCWC offers a wide range of services at every price-point, with several new services added just this month, as Kathy’s husband Russ joins the firm to double the luminosity.

Spring into Coming-of-Age Novels

Your one-stop CFOM resource—chock-full of how-tos and helpful hints—equipping you to get more out of your reading. Designed for the individual, libraries, and book clubs.

When I think of spring’s approach, my mind turns to “Coming of Age” novels. I love reading these stories—youth discovering their wings and edging closer to leaving the nest. Usually these stories contain common elements:

• Independence. Protagonists discover their voice and learn to express opinions. This often leaves them at odds with someone in their family, school, church, or community.
• Love. Often the romantic element includes obstacles. COA stories are never smooth sailing because life lessons are learned when navigating choppy waters.
• Conflict. When we hear the word angst, we often add the word teenage in front of it. Tension and resolution are typically woven through the story.
• Choice. Young people learn that part of growing up is making hard decisions. COA novels show the main character growing stronger while deliberating serious options and consequences.

Two of my favorite Coming-of-Age series include:

Calloway Summer Series
Fireflies in December, Cottonwood Whispers, and Catching Moondrops Author: Jennifer Erin Valent
Publisher: Tyndale House

Jennifer Erin Valent won the 2010 Christy Award for Fireflies. Words paint the story of Jessilyn Lassiter, a young girl whose world is torn apart in the 1930s. We see loss, KKK conflict, and what friendship looks like underneath skin color. The opening of the story involves Jessilyn being rescued by a newcomer to the community. This stranger becomes a familiar part of the family as we read through the entire series. I fell in love with Jessilyn’s spunk and insights, and laughed at her love-life struggles. Author Jennifer Erin Valent has a way of immersing the reader into the story, like we’re eyewitnesses to all that’s going on. I found myself wanting to fight Jessilyn’s battles right along with her!

The Maranatha Series
Watching the Tree Limbs and Wishing on Dandelions Author: Mary DeMuth
Publisher: NavPress

Mary DeMuth has written several excellent books, but when I think of Coming-of-Age novels, my mind goes to her Maranatha Series. As I cracked open Tree Limbs, I was transported to the east Texas setting and was quickly drawn into nine-year-old

Mara’s life. The story exposes the ugliness of rape, poverty, and prejudice, while extolling the opportunities for healing and redemption. Even though both books cover dark subject matter, there are also warm fuzzy moments and even humor interjected to let the heart experience different emotions. In Dandelions we see Mara growing up, learning to cope with a crazy new mother figure, and realizing that falling in love is never easy or predictable.

Chasing Lilacs by Carla Stewart (Faith Words)
June Bug by Chris Fabry (Tyndale House)
While We’re Far Apart by Lynn Austin (Bethany House)

Reading Assignment:
Select a Coming-of-Age Novel to read this spring. Ask yourself these questions as you read:
1. What strengths do I admire in the main character?
2. Name some of the struggles dealt with in the storyline.
3. What discoveries about myself surface as I read this story?


Kathy CArlton Willis