(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Gloria Naylor’s coming-of-age novel The Year of the Gopher connects readers with such universal young adult concerns as self-identity, life goals, sexuality, and relationships with parents. The strength of the story lies in Naylor’s accurate depiction of the feelings and emotions of a typical frightened and confused adolescent struggling to find himself and become emotionally and economically independent of his parents.

The major conflict in The Year of the Gopher is generational expectations versus individual desires. George’s parents love him and truly want what they think is best for him. George sarcastically regrets, however, that he has only one life for his father to live. George’s conflict with his parents is a common experience for many young adults, who may be pressured by their parents to chose a financially rewarding career. He is expected to follow in the family footsteps going to an Ivy League school and becoming a lawyer like his Harvard-educated father and grandfather. Furthermore, George is expected to take over the family law firm.

The Year of the Gopher is an insightful novel that has many lessons to teach young readers who are unsure about what they want to do with their lives. George matures and starts to value women for qualities other than sexual ones, having learned that friendships with women are easier than romantic relationships. George also learns that one must be responsible with...

(The entire section is 451 words.)