Coming-of-Age Canon: CJ Miller

Formative stories from the YOUTH group

Have you ever read a story that stuck with you a little longer than the others? Sometimes a movie or a book or a song from your childhood helped you when you had growing pains. Bildungsroman refers to a piece of art that helped form the person you are today.

We asked the cast and crew of YOUTH to talk about their own favorite and formative art. This post features CJ Miller, playing Maurice.

FORMATIVE INSPIRATION (book/movie/song, etc)

The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merril


What about it struck you?

One of the main characters, Rufus, has a dream of helping people purely because he wants to help. He’s not driven by money or fame. He simply wants to do something to help those in need and make their lives a little easier.

How has it informed your development as a person/artist/scholar/etc?

It helps me to remain focus on what truly is important. Regardless of who may disagree with me and choose to no longer love me or be my friend, the right thing to do is always the right thing to do. I try to never lose sight of that and remember this world is much more than just me.

Have you incorporated any of its lessons into your life that you use, even now?

Always. I try to remain courageous and take on challenges for and with those who may need someone by their side. Even if we lose (which good often does) we will lose together. And losing the fight for what’s right is better than winning to gain power over others.

Would you recommend it to others? Why or why not?

Everyone should read this book. The main protagonists are both children and incredibly inspiring. The remind us that the power to help others is always within us and should remain at the forefront of all we do.