As long as I can remember I have enjoyed reading novels about the growth and journey of young heroes.
Joseph Campbell has documented the mythology of this as the "heroic journey" and it is found as far back as Gilgamesh and Homer's Odyssey. Related to this, A Handbook to Literature defines the "bildungsroman" as "A novel that deals with the development of a young person as he grows up." One of the earliest examples is Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship written at the end of the eighteenth century. This is considered by some to be the paragon of the genre, but this type of novel continued to be popular throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries. My personal favorites include both Dicken's David Copperfield and Great Expectations, Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage, Thomas Mann's magisterial The Magic Mountain and James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (also described as a Kunstleroman). Each of these novels differs in the depiction of the development and growth of the young person. Dicken's David Copperfield (a very autobiographical example as many of this type of novel are) shows a maturation from the moment of birth to adulthood where he finally settles down with his second wife (pardon me if you have not yet read this wonderful novel). Contrast that with the development of Philip Carey in Maugham's Of Human Bondage where Carey again and again makes unwise decisions, learning slowly if at all, and settling in the end for a life that seems to be good only in contrast to all the mistakes that led him to it. Each of these novels reflects the outlook of the novelist as well as the life of the young protagonist who is at the center of the novel. In Mann's case, young Hans Castorp is just beginning his adult life as we leave him at the end of the novel and, at the risk of spoiling it for those who have not read it, the outlook for him is not good. I will leave you with a quotation from the more positive ending of another novel that ends with the young hero's entry into adulthood, Joyce's A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.
"Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated consciousness of my race."