IF YOU THINK IT WAS HARD being a real teenager, try being a fictional one.
Yeah, that’s impossible. Good thing. It might be fun being Archie Andrews or Nancy Drew for a day, but what about …
1. Romeo Montague, Juliet Capulet, ages 13 and 15 (or 16), Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare, 1595 • The star-crossed pair loved and lost — their lives. Poison and a self-stabbing will do that sometimes.
2. Beth March, age 14. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott, 1868 • The most angelic of the March sisters died of scarlet fever. A hundred-and-thirty-years later Joey Tribbiani of “Friends” gasped in horror when Rachel told him.
3. Little Nell. Age 13. The Old Curiosity Shop, Charles Dickens, 1841 • Nell’s death brought misery to many and mirth to some. “One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears … of laughter,” said Oscar Wilde.
4. Tess Durbeyfield, age 16. Tess of the D’urbervilles, Thomas Hardy, 1891 • Considering all the grief she’d gone through, it was almost a relief when Hardy’s heroine died by execution.
5. Hedvig, age 14. The Wild Duck, Henrik Ibsen, 1884 • Hedvig took her own life. With his taste for tragedy, Hardy must have approved.
6. Carrie White, age 15. Carrie, Stephen King 1974 • At 16, Carrie unleashed her telekinetic powers on a bunch of classmates, then died from a stab wound inflicted by her crazy-as-a-loon mother.
7. Paul Baumer, age 19. All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque, 1929 • When the hero died he looked relaxed, “as though almost glad the end had come.” The Nazis were no fans of this antiwar classic.
8. Bigger Thomas, age 19. Native Son, Richard Wright, 1940 • Thomas was convicted of murder and sentenced to die.
9. Pinkie Brown, age 17. Brighton Rock, Graham Greene, 1938 • Greene’s anti-hero plunged to his death, but that was O.K. He was one bad dude.
10. Lux Lisbon, age 14. The Virgin Suicides, Jeffery Eugenides, 1993 • The title provides more than hint of the fate in store for poor Lux and her sisters.
* All character ages were those revealed at the beginning of the novel or play.