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Growing Pains


From dystopian epics to ‘sick lit’ tearjerkers, supernatural romances to works of steampunk sci-fi; the scope of quality coming-of-age stories pitched at teenage readers has never been more diverse. With blockbuster young adult books skyrocketing to prominence – netting film adaptations and unofficial fan-fiction spinoffs – young adult novels are increasingly serving as focal points for communities of readers who find solace in remarkable characters and their journeys to maturity.

In a contemporary society marked by a lack of obvious rites of passage, the best YA novels can act as roadmaps, guiding us on the path from childhood to adulthood. But is providing straightforward models for growing up really the point of the most compelling coming-of-age stories?

John Marsden (Checkers, Winter and the Tomorrow series), Will Kostakis (The First Third) and Alice Pung (Laurinda) will speak about stories exploring the universal – and often peculiar, embarrassing, and remarkable – experiences of growing up. Hosted by YA author Emily Gale.


Emily Gale

Emily Gale has been involved in the children’s book industry for nearly 20 years and has worked as an editor, reviewer, talent finder and literary award judge. She spent several happy years at independent bookshop Readings as a children’s book buyer, during which time she was instru... Read more

John Marsden

John Marsden has written more than 40 books, mostly for teenagers and children, including Tomorrow When the War Began, So Much to Tell You, and Letters from the Inside. He has sold over five million books worldwide, and has won every major award in Australia for young people’s fiction. South o... Read more

Will Kostakis

Will Kostakis has written everything from celebrity news stories that score cease and desist letters, to tweets for professional wrestlers. He’s best known for his award-winning YA novels, The Sidekicks and The First Third. Monuments is his first fantasy novel. ... Read more

Alice Pung

Alice Pung is an award-winning Australian writer whose books include the bestselling memoirs Unpolished Gem (2006) and Her Father’s Daughter (2011), and the novel Laurinda (2014). She is the editor of the anthology Growing Up Asian in Australia (2008), and created the Marly books for Penguin&#... Read more


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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we live and work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.