I admit it, I’m a sucker for Coming-of-Age stories. I just completed Leta Blake’s masterful “Pictures of You,” one of the finest I’ve ever read. The narrator, Peter, tells of his senior year in high school, where the nerd photographer actually makes friends, falls in love, has sex for the first time, and slowly comes to realize the effects that his lover has had on him. He’s not comfortable with the person he has become.
Nearly all good fiction involves transformation, and Blake has handled it deftly, with respect for her characters. The vast majority of writers in her genre handle transformation with “Before” and “After” pictures, which is not just meaningless, but dissatisfying. Blake carefully describes the process and experiences of transformation, not just of the narrator but of others, as well.
After Peter, Sarah’s transformation is probably the most remarkable. We watch the predatory caterpillar become an admirable butterfly. Susan transforms from an irritant to a victim of herself, and we understand why. Adam continually promises to transform, but we can see through that to realize that he remains manipulative and self-centered to the end. Mike’s transformation has few details, and Blake smartly leaves that one to the reader to fill in. Events around Mike can be interpreted in many ways, some of them leading to his change.
Similarly, the ending allows the reader’s imagination to create more of the story. Some may believe the ending is sad; I considered it the best possible outcome for Peter. “Pictures of You” is book one in a series; I plan to read on. If you enjoy Coming-of-Age tales, you’ll love “Pictures of You.”