Coming of Age
Alex thought of the man who had been his only relation for as long as he could remember. He had never known his own parents. (1.13)
Ian Rider was the only parental figure in Alex's life, so when he's gone, his death forces Alex to take on his greatest challenge yet—growing up.
Alex hadn't gone to school even though, secretly, he wanted to. He would have preferred to escape back into normal life. (1.28)
It's hard to blame Alex for holding on to his simple, fourteen-year-old life in the face of all of this chaos. After all, wouldn't you do the same?
At fourteen, he was still too young to look after himself. His whole future looked so uncertain that he preferred not to talk about it. (1.33)
Ian was like a father to Alex—he cared for him when no one else could. The uncertainty surrounding Jack's visa only makes the issue more pressing.
"Any boy who would climb out of a fifteenth-floor window just to satisfy his own curiosity has to be rather special." (4.73)
We're just getting started and we can already see Alex's growth. Sure, he's still a boy, but he's well on his way.
"It's a dumb idea. I don't want to be a spy. I want to play soccer." (4.81)
The truth is that we don't get to choose when we go through a coming-of-age experience—these things happen when they happen.
"You're a boy, not a man. But if you complain, you'll be binned […] Between you and me, boy, this is a mistake and I want to bin you." (5.10)
Alex's time at boot camp brings his growth into high relief. He is now—quite literally—a boy among men, forcing him to seriously step up his game.
The sergeant gazed at him for a long minute. He nodded his head slowly. "Listen to me, Cub," he said. "I know what happened in the Killing House." (5.53)
Our little Alex has come a long way. Through blood, sweat, and tears, Alex has managed to earn the respect of the same sergeant who once wanted him fired.
Alex was dressed in a flying suit. His hair was damp from the rain. His face was pinched with tiredness, and he seemed to have grown older over the past two weeks. (6.37)
This image highlights the personal growth that Alex has just experienced. It's a pretty far cry from a boy who just wanted to play soccer, right?
Wolf held out a hand. "I want you to know...I was wrong about you. You're all right. And maybe… one day it would be good to work with you." (6.89)
Finally, Alex wins over his harshest critic. Wolf doesn't see Alex as some kid anymore—he sees him as a peer. Yay.
Suddenly everything seemed unfair. He had never asked to be here. He had been forced into this by MI6 and he'd already done more than enough. (11.58)
Despite his coming-of-age experience, Alex is still a kid at his core. He's grown up a lot, but there's plenty more to go where that came from—he's only fourteen, after all.