Study Guide

Across Five Aprils Coming of Age

By Irene Hunt

Coming of Age

In Across Five Aprils, Jethro's family situation requires him to grow up pretty quickly. And despite the responsibilities he has to take on—running the farm and handling his own education, to name a few—he's still only thirteen by the end of the book. Which is really young. Throughout the book, we see Jethro transform from a young boy who idolizes Bill and Shad to a young man who bears the effects of the war with surprising grace and competence. He may only be thirteen when all is said and done, but Jethro's got an old soul.

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. How does Jethro appear to be a boy and man at the same time?
  2. What moment(s) do you think pushes Jethro into (or toward) manhood? Why?
  3. Does Jethro set off on his path to adulthood happily? Are his feelings justified once he gets there? Why or why not?

Chew on This

By being forced before his time to take on the role of man of the house, Jethro inevitably grows up faster than he would have without the impact of the war.

The traumatic experiences Jethro has with Wortman and the difficult decision to keep Eb's desertion a secret are the two major turning points in Jethro's coming of age.