Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged coming of age


Mutum is a coming of age, low-budget feature about a subsistence farming family living in the sertão, the hardscrabble outback of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The family is so dirt poor and isolated that nearly every meal is rice and a little meat, the roof leaks buckets in a rainstorm, and a person can die from lack of treatment for a minor scrape that becomes infected.

Zero Bridge

Scenes from this film and the emotions they elicited continued to resonate in my mind for hours after I saw it. Zero Bridge is an understated yet profound film that shows us a slice of life in Kashmir, a place most of us know little about. The story follows Dilawar, a seventeen-year-old Kashmiri boy that lives with his uncle and is struggling to find his way. He is driven by a desire to leave Kashmir and hopefully join his adoptive mother in Delhi.

Old Photographs

Old Photographs by Sherie Posesorski is the story of Phoebe Hecht, a teenage girl who is struggling through most boring summer of her life. Originally from the small town of Barrie, Phoebe moved to Toronto about a year ago when her mother married Greg, a very rich, very serious doctor. While her mother is excited about all the changes in their life, Phoebe is less than thrilled.

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance

Beginning at a Halloween-themed singles dance for Mormon adults in the tristate area (the party referenced in the title of her novel) a Queen-Bee-costumed Elna Baker sets the scene for the spiritually-infused existential struggles that are soon to come. Although the attendees are adults, the event aches of prepubescent awkwardness and is plagued by the same maladies that afflict these preteen school functions: forced sobriety, abysmal music, sex-segregated clustering, embarrassing encounters with couples dancing, and sanctified social hierarchy.

Broken Glass Park

Broken Glass Park is the tough story of a young girl whose upbringing and current life situation is hard, to say the least. After a former abusive boyfriend murders her mother, Sascha has to take care of her younger siblings with the help of a guardian she doesn’t particularly respect. From her point of view, we’re taken through her grieving, her distrust and hatred of men, her failing schoolwork, and her experience as an immigrant.

The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage

The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage, written by Iran native Roxana Shirazi, was a complete and utter waste of my time. The book was championed by writers Neil Strauss and Anthony Bozza, who met up with Shirazi one faithful day and immediately became enthralled by her tails of debauchery with bad up and coming rock ‘n’ roll bands, as well as some oldies, but not so goodies like Guns N’ Roses.

Sons of Perdition

Exiled boys from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) have been making news and showing up on the pop culture radar for a while.

The Carrie Diaries

Sex and the City the television series ended six years ago. One might find this hard to believe, considering the characters and the lavish lifestyles they live have been far from gone in the mainstream media.

Leading Ladies

It may seem quite an impossibility, but the film Leading Ladies is, simply put, a quietly revolutionary dance musical. While most dance musicals (think Dirty Dancing, Save the Last Dance) center on the boy-meets-girl heterosexual love match, Leading Ladies is a beautifully wrought girl-meets-girl story.

Die Young

Blair Gimma bounces about between art pop and insightful complexity with her first full-length venture, Die Young, juxtaposing the indelible angst of indie folk rock (with help from her daydreamy vocals) with stark lyrical imagery.

Elegies for the Brokenhearted

Elegies for the Brokenhearted is a book about nobodies. The narrator, Mary Murphy, is a silent observer to the destructive forces around her that ultimately shape the outcome of her life. As invisible as her ubiquitous name, Mary is a shy—and at times optionally mute—child and young adult who finds very little to care for. We first meet Mary as a young girl trying desperately to gain the (positive) attention of her mother and uncle.

Everything Matters!

Someone should count how many coming-of-age novels have ever been written that focus on white, male characters. To me, it seems like every time I browse around in a bookstore and skim through the back covers of books in the “New & Hot Fiction” section, the onslaught of these story set-ups just doesn’t end. I realize that some topics never get boring, like love, betrayal, or war.

Holy Rollers

Holy Rollers is a story of sex, drugs, and Orthodox Judaism. In the late 1990s, a group of drug dealers used young Orthodox kids from Brooklyn as mules to carry ecstasy back from Amsterdam to New York City. On the surface, this fictionalized account of these real events seems so simple: the sinful preying on the innocent.

MILK (5/1/2010)

Emily DeVoti’s provocative two-act play, MILK, opens in a spare farmhouse kitchen. It’s 1984. Ronald Reagan has just been elected US president and local newscasters seem to have nothing good to report. Meg (played by Jordan Baker), a former mathematician who loves precision and order, and her husband Ben (Jon Krupp), a former investigative reporter, are sitting at the table and talking, but it’s the kind of tense conversation that can quickly turn from controlled anger to fierce argument. Things are bad, very bad.

Mathilda Savitch

Despite years of being told not to, I immediately judged Victor Lodato’s novel Mathilda Savitch by the cover. I opened it expecting to speed through a mature version of Harriet the Spy with a twist of Tim Burton’s eccentricity.

Off and Running

Considering the number of children in need of adoption—and the number of children who are actually adopted each year—it's surprising there aren't more adoption stories being told. Aside from The Locator, we've had especially limited access to stories about adopted children reaching out to their birth parents. The delicate, vulnerable position of someone sending a letter out into the world, waiting and hoping to hear back about where they come from, is still a bit of a mystery, and more than worthwhile.

Waking Up in the Land of Glitter: A Crafty Chica Novel

Waking Up in the Land of Glitter is Kathy Cano-Murillo's first foray into the world of novel writing. The author, known to her crafting disciples as "Crafty Chica," already has a well-established fan base because of her popular crafting books, web series, nationally syndicated newspaper column, instructional craft cruise to Mexico, and product line.

Dowaha (Buried Secrets)

Dowaha (Buried Secrets) is the second feature film by Tunisian director Raja Amari. The film follows the story of Aicha, a teenage girl who lives with her spinster sister and older mother in the basement of a crumbling, abandoned mansion in a remote area. The women are hiding from something unknown and live in a different reality of total seclusion, other than the occasional trip into town to sell piecework at a fabric shop.

Heart of the Old Country

Mike’s life isn’t going anywhere quickly. A townie car service driver who lives with his widower father, he barely tolerates his girlfriend of four years, Gina, and spends most of his time contemplating an escape from his South Brooklyn stomping grounds. After a friend is brutally murdered with Mike driving the assailants’ getaway car, Mike doesn’t flee. Instead, he accepts a coveted job working for one of the local mob bosses running packages—contents unknown—between an Ethiopian hustler and a house full of Hasidic Jews. His tough guise doesn’t last long, though.

Off and Running

Off and Running is a very non-traditional coming-of-age story told in a way that deftly conveys one young woman’s unique situation as well as more universal themes. Filmmaker Nicole Opper was afforded intimate access to her subjects, which enabled her to invite the viewer to take a sensitive and warm perspective as the events unfold. The film’s central subject, a high school track star named Avery Klein-Cloud, is honest and likable.

The Impostor’s Daughter: A True Memoir

The disenchantment of our parents, when we realize they’re humans too, is an unpleasant event of growing up. We all handle it differently. For Laurie Sandell, she put it into a graphic novel, The Impostor’s Daughter: A True Memoir.


Here’s the truth: right up front I judged Picara by its cover. The cover, a photo of a young girl sitting on a rail guard with a sideways gaze and unreadable emotion on her face, conjured up one word in my mind: Angst. Well, two words: Teenage angst.

Another Life Altogether

Elaine Beale crafts the engrossing coming-of-age and coming out story of Jesse Bennet in Another Life Altogether. Jesse lives on the northeast coast of England, one of the world’s fastest eroding coastlines. The constant threat of the breakdown of the cliffs is mirrored by Jesse’s mother’s constant threat of mental collapse.

The Love Children

spoiler alert On May 4, 2009, I visited Jezebel, one of my favorite blogs, only to find out that Marilyn French had passed. She was one of the first feminist thinkers to open my eyes to issues surrounding womanhood, the dominance of patriarchy, and expectations of the female gender.

Kinky Gazpacho: Love, Life, and Spain

Lori Tharps’ Kinky Gazpacho does what memoirs do best: it brings us the author’s journey through her inner psychological life. The book spans Tharps’ kindergarten “Culture Day” in Milwaukee, Wisconsin through her present life as a freelance writer in Philadelphia.

An Education

From the moment the film started, the audience of An Education had a collective understanding that what we were about to see no longer applied. Based on the memoir of British journalist Lynn Barber, the film opens with a nostalgically ridiculous montage of ‘60s-era schoolgirls learning their daily lessons: cooking, ballroom dancing, and walking with proper posture (books-on-heads and all).

The Others

_I read all the pages the Google search engine would give me when I typed in the English words homosexual and bisexual. The pages that came up made my head hurt. I felt as though they were forcing upon me awareness, an acknowledgment, of an orientation that was not really mine.

East of the Sun

East of the Sun follows the journey of three young women and their quest for love, life, and self-discovery in the autumn of 1928. The story begins in London with Viva Holloway, an orphan and aspiring writer who takes on the responsibility of chaperoning three young adults—Rose, Tor and Guy—in traveling to India.

The Hebrew Tutor of Bel-Air

The back copy for The Hebrew Tutor paints a picture that is enticing: Under threat of nuclear war and the gorgeous California sun, the two [Norman and Bayla] forge a tentative truce. They may not be learning Hebrew, but through the miracle of motorcycles and the epiphanies of the road, Bayla and Norman just might learn to shape their own destinies.

Skunk Girl

Skunk Girl is Sheba Karim’s first novel. It is told from the point of view of sixteen-year-old Nina Khan, self-described as “a Pakistani Muslim girl” and from a small white town in upstate New York. Although published in 2009, the story is set in approximately 1993. In a fast-paced, entertaining read, Nina narrates her life and drama as the only Pakistani and Muslim girl in her high school.