You’re Never Too Old to Have a Bildungsroman

Last week I had the pleasure of reading My Soul To Take by author (and my professor) Tananarive Due. My Soul To Take is the last book in The African Immortals Series, and initially I had my reservations about reading the last book in a series that was as revered as this one was; however, upon completion I came to the realization that I was able to seamlessly read the novel sans feeling lost or feeling like I was missing something. One of the reasons I think I was able to read the novel with ease is because it had a stand-alone theme that was very familiar to me–the coming of age story, also known a bildungsroman. I’ll be honest: until about three months ago I had never heard that word before, and if asked what it was I would have guessed that it was some western European torture device, thankfully it is not! For those of you, like myself three short months ago, who don’t know, a bildungsroman is just the long fancy word meaning a coming of age tale or story. What I like about the bildungsroman is that no matter how old a person is, they can always relate to the story being told in one way or another. However, in the case of My Soul To Take the persons coming of age just so happen to be adults and born immortals…Yes, you read that correctly, Tananarive Due was able to tell the story of two immortal beings “coming of age”. How did she make this happen, she tapped into the fear of most people–turning into their parents. In the novel one of the two immortal born beings is a male named Michel, and Michel seems like one nasty guy with unrivaled psychokinetic powers, who intends to cleanse the world of humankind. But believe it or not, Michel in all of his awesome (and terrifying) power, is still subject to the Oedipus complex, where he longs for the mother he never had and seeks to become his own man in spite of his father. Although, we are introduced to Michel as one of the most powerful beings on Earth, the fact that he is struggling to define himself apart from his father is humanizing and makes him relatable. Learning that even an immortal being goes through change and the uncertainty of “growing up”, makes me continue to value the work of speculative fiction writers like Due and Butler, who are able to tell stories of the fantastical and frightening that are entertaining while being relevant an relatable to real life. After reading My Soul To Take and encountering an adult immortal’s coming of age struggle, I find  comfort in knowing that you’re never too old to have a bildungsroman.

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One thought on “You’re Never Too Old to Have a Bildungsroman

  1. I like how you say no one is ever to old to come of age. It is interesting when it is looked at from the idea that one may never die so is it one coming of age or can they expirence more then just one. I feel when saying coming of age it is so interesting looking at it from the idea of what can be seen as an ageless being because living forever one can choose when they decide to come of age.

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