According to literary critic Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas, Spanish novels written at the end of the twentieth century reflected Spanish society's dissatisfaction with its government and general pessimism. The purpose of this dissertation is to study five Spanish novels written at that time--Martín Casariego's El chico que imitaba a Roberto Carlos (1996), Lorenzo Silva's Algún día, cuando pueda llevarte a Varsovia (1997), Ray Loriga's Héroes (1993), José Ángel Mañas' Mensaka (1995), and Care Santos' Okupada (1997)--to show that while some authors indeed provided a dark and negative vision of Spanish society, others gave the reader a more optimistic and positive image of the nation and its future. The texts chosen for this study all present the world from the perspective of Spanish adolescents and focus on the many different issues they must confront in an increasingly globalized society. In order to understand the context from which these novels originated, they are analyzed from an urban and cultural perspective. This approach also helps to establish a parallel between a young person’s coming-of-age and the social, political and cultural changes taking place in Spain at the turn the twenty-first century. Given the importance of the development of identity in these texts, the correlation between the Spanish adolescent novel and the tradition of the Bildungsroman is also explored. A key to the process of identity development is the different mechanisms young people rely on to escape (albeit temporarily) from their problems. Some of the alternatives available to adolescents presented in the texts studied here are the use of the imagination, the development of an ecological consciousness, and participation in social youth movements, such as painting graffiti and squatter movements. In the end, the choices made by Casariego, Silva, Loriga, Mañas, and Santos’ protagonists reveal the essential differences among the Spanish novels written in the 1990s. By presenting the reader with an image of youth that is hedonistic and materialistic, Héroes and Mensaka confirm the critics’ assertion that the Spanish novel reflected the nation’s disenchantment and pessimism. However, the level of social engagement that motivates the actions of the protagonists of El chico , Algún día, and Okupada suggests that not all Spanish novelists viewed their nation from the same negative perspective. What is more, the optimistic futures suggested in these three novels positively influence young Spanish readers at a time in their lives when they are developing their own identity as individuals and social beings. By presenting characters that face their problems and explore the various options available to them, these authors indirectly help their adolescent readers who are themselves living similar situations and in the process of becoming adults.