Coming of Age

Coming of Age

How Adolescence Shapes Us


Brought to you by Penguin.

Adolescence is the most dramatic and formative period of our lives: both thrilling and traumatic, it is when we become who we are, when the smallest things can have life-long effects. But it is also full of contradictions, making it bewildering to live through and usually misunderstood in retrospect. We often struggle to connect with the adolescents in our lives, but most of us have yet to come to terms with our own adolescence and how it has shaped who we are.

In this moving, empowering book, which is full of counter-intuitive insights, Lucy Foulkes, an expert in adolescent psychology, draws on the latest studies and in-depth interviews to demystify adolescent behaviours - friendship, bullying, risk-taking, sex, mental illness, love and much more. She unpicks the social hierarchies that colour all of adolescent life and reveals some surprising underlying truths: that as adolescents we are deeply conservative more than we are rebellious; that what seems like recklessness is often calculated and risk-averse; that the same peer influence that can lead to bullying can also be used to prevent it; that popularity is a mixed blessing even while friendship at this time can be a life-changing good. She explains why appearance counts for everything at this age and why we can be so fickle and cruel, but also how adolescents can astound the adults in their lives with their empathy and capacity to support and nurture one another.

If our identities are a story, then the first crucial draft is written in adolescence. This book helps us to read that story - in ourselves and as it is being written in others - helping us to appreciate and accept it and where there is pain to begin to rewrite it.

©2024 Lucy Foulkes (P)2024 Penguin Audio


  • A compelling, useful and fascinating exploration of the emotional earthquake that is adolescence, revealing its unwritten rules and some really vital insights into crossing the rocky terrain between childhood and adulthood
    Jo Brand

About the author

Lucy Foulkes

Dr Lucy Foulkes is an academic psychologist. She is currently a Prudence Trust Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, where she leads research into adolescent mental health and social development. She is also an honorary lecturer in psychology at UCL. She is the author of What Mental Illness Really Is (and What It Isn't) and has written for the Guardian, New Scientist and other publications. Her work has been discussed on BBC 2’s Newsnight and reported in The Times, Economist, New York Times and Atlantic, and she has appeared on BBC Radio 4's All in the Mind and Start the Week.
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