The Top 5: Female Bildungsroman Novels

If you have been following The Book Cafe posts, you may have noticed about how I have been trying to read more female writers and how many of their novels have had a sense of growth and change in the female characters which makes them qualify as a bildungsroman novel. A bildungsroman novel can be loosely defined as a coming of age novel focusing on the protagonist’s formative years or a novel that highlights a physical or psychological growth and change.

Often, these bildungsroman novels have a male protagonist and their specific growth. But in this post I would like to highlight my top 5 picks of female bildungsroman novels!

Come take a look!

5. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez:

This is a heart wrenching true story of three Mirabel sisters who became legends because of their defiance during the gaunt Trujillo regime in Dominican Republic. It is not just about their rebellious years but also about their innocent childhood, their family life and how they grew into the symbols that they have become today.


Read my full review here.

4. Circle of Karma by Kunzang Choden:

This one is a debut novel in English from the renowned Bhutanese author, Kunzang Choden and she takes us to join Tshomo’s journey towards her acceptance of her self and her spiritual love.

3. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This graphic novel has worldwide acclaim and is a hard one to miss. This biographical story revolves around the author’s own growth when the Iranian Revolution swept the country when she was a child, forcing her to abandon her home and face harsh truths about her country and her separation from her family.

2. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie.

Told from the perspective of the 15 year old Kambili living in the shadows of her strict Christian father, Purple Hibiscus traces the changes she undergoes when she meets her lovely and more open minded aunt, Ifeoma.


Want the full review? Click here!

1. My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Nagata Kabi:

This manga has been hailed as a revolutionary one since it takes such a popular, visual form of story telling (aka the manga which often can be mocked for indulging in only stereotypical tales) to talk about specific autobiographical issues interspersed with pertinent mental health topics such as loneliness, sexual drives, societal and parental expectations on the younger generation among others. This one is a must read!

Read my full review here!

That’s all folks!

Do you know of any other novels which could qualify as a female bildungsroman? Write in your thoughts in the comments below. Or better yet, you could do a guest post! If interested, mail me at

6 thoughts on “The Top 5: Female Bildungsroman Novels

  1. I have read Persepolis and have also watched the movie based on it. Its a great book. Loved the black humor more than anything else.

    Among the other four, I will definitely try the Julia Alvarez novel. Always have a partiality towards Latin American works.. Have you read the novel Feast of the Goat by Llosa..? Its also based on Trujillo’s autocratic rule.
    Thanks for the recommendation.. 👍

    • Oh yes Julia Alvarez’s novel is brilliantly written, though of course it is quite dark. No I have not heard of Feast of the Goat but thank you for the recommendation. Hopefully will read it. Thank you for liking the review! 😀

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