THE GIRL I WANTED TO BE by Sarah Grace McCandless

I read about The Girl I Wanted to Be, by Sarah Grace McCandless, in a Washingtonian magazine article about local authors.  I hadn’t heard of McCandless before, but The Girl I Wanted to Be, her second novel, looks pretty good.  It’s about a 14 year-old Michigan girl who learns disappointing truths about the adults in her life, including her beloved aunt, while trying to make her way through high school.  From Amazon: “McCandless writes in an authentic adolescent voice about a young person’s attempts to reconcile her own intuition and experiences with the patronizing doublespeak and contradictions in the adult world.”  Here’s a review from the Detroit Free Press, which calls The Girl I Wanted to Be “miles ahead of most.”

I found this interview with Sarah Grace McCandless on the Conversations with Famous Writers blog. McCandless has some interesting things to say about how she became a writer and how she developed the plot for the book.  Also some good references to her favorite coming-of-age books, movies and TV shows.

I also found two sites about Sarah Grace McCandless herself – her official site and her blog. If you’re intrigued by her book, check out her blog as well.  She’s a pop culture junkie, like me, and I found a lot of entertaining stuff in there. (And she loves The Office too!).

What’s your favorite coming-of-age book?


  • Len
    October 18, 2006 - 3:44 pm | Permalink

    By far, my fave coming of age book is “Ellen Foster” by Kaye Gibbons. Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for interesting Southern novels–having grown up with a few people who seemed to come straight out of Southern novels. Besides that, though, EF, is a wonderful little book.
    First of all, it has, perhaps, the best opening line in literature: “When I was little, I used to think of ways to kill my daddy.” How can you go wrong with an opening like that?
    Then, there is Ellen herself. The girl is a smart (and occasionally a smart-assed) and plucky survivor. Gibbons gives her a great voice, an engaging sense of humor, and an incredible attitude in the face of severe circumstances. The section where Ellen describes how she “presented” herself to the woman she wanted to be her new Mom is stunning and poignant.
    I know I haven’t done the novel justice, but if I keep telling you about all the wonderful parts of it, I’ll end up giving away most of the about 100 page novel. So go read it for yourself, then come back and let me know what you think.
    Oh…if you love the book and decide to read more Kaye Gibbons, please, please, please skip Gibbons’ 2005 sequel to EF, called “The Life All Around Me By Ellen Foster.” That book is as bad as EF is wonderful. The premise–that it is actually a story written by Ellen & not Gibbons–is cute, but it’s way too long and many of the scenes seem overwrought for the Ellen we meet and come to love in EF. Plus, “The Life” has one of those really annoying rapid wrap-ups in the final few pages. I despise those…
    Instead, have a look at Gibbons’ “A Virtuous Woman,” “A Cure for Dreams,” and “Charms for the Easy Life.” All are good reads and all are far, far superior to “Life All Around Me.”

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