Growing up is a central them in all of these stories. All of the stories in the book feature a strong theme about growing up and becoming more mature. Almost all of the protagonists in the book are in the last few years of elementary school or the first few years of junior high school. In Growing Up, Maria is in the tenth grade. She is the oldest protagonist in the book. All of the stories place the protagonist in a situation that causes him or her to evaluate and extend his or her abilities through focused effort.