Growing Up Critical Essays

Russell Baker

Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction Growing Up Analysis

Growing Up, the winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize in biography, is Baker’s attempt to show his coming of age, placing his experiences within a historical setting as well as within his own family situation. His effort to give an honest, personal account of his youth is aided by his ability to step outside himself and look into the lives of those around him. He is particularly sensitive to the motivations, the strengths and weaknesses, and the complex feelings that guided those he loved. As a result, the tone of this book is honest but never harsh, understanding but not judgmental, and self-analytical but not self-serving. Although this book was written for a general audience and not specifically for young adults, it has much to offer the teenage reader who is interested in the story of one individual’s analysis of his own growth, development, and struggles to make sense of his life.

In some ways, Growing Up is an accounting of the influences on Baker of the women in his life. The most obvious influence is that of his mother, Lucy. Left destitute when her father died while she was in college, Lucy had to leave the area that she knew and go into the backwoods in order to secure a teaching position to support herself. There she met and married Benjamin Baker, whose death left her with two children to support and virtually no means to do so. Indeed, she was so desperate that she was forced to give up her youngest child, Audrey, to be...

(The entire section is 582 words.)