This book is about a teenager, Emily, who is studying for her GCSEs. Everyone thinks Emily can cope; they expect her to. But soon Emily struggles. Her “friends” have turned against her and have set up a hate campaign. With no one to turn to Emily starts to self-harm. She manages to hide her problem for a while but soon things go too far.
I found the story compelling, and upsetting in some places. The author described the feelings of the character really well. The story was really powerful and well written.You can get a better idea of what happens in the mind of a self-harmer and can understand a little better how it feels.
I really enjoy reading books by Joanna Kenrick and I think she describes the feelings very well in the rest of her books. She is very talented at putting herself into different positions and I hope she writes more.
By Laura A.
NUMB3R5 by Rachel Ward
Numbers is a book set in London about a young girl called Jem, but Jem isn’t an ordinary girl. When she looks into people’s eyes she can see the day when they are going to die. When Jem meets a boy called Spider they get seen running away from a terrorist attack on the London Eye so they runaway together but Spider’s number is getting closer. Will Jem be able to stop it or will she find that you can’t avoid death?
Numbers is a fantastically written book by Rachel Ward and I would personally recommend reading it. 10/10
By Jessica S
BEFORE I DIE by Jenny Downham
Before I die is a book about a 16 year old girl named Tessa Scott who has had the life threatening illness Leukaemia for four years.
Tessa knows that she doesn’t have much longer to live so sets out to do all the things she wants to do in her life in her small time left.
Before she dies she wants to:
- Lose her virginity
- Drive a car
- Have a long relationship with the right guy
- Take drugs
- Say yes to everything
- And try to enjoy life
Tessa looks like a usual teenager, but she has to deal with a lot more than a normal teenager would. Her parents are split up and she never sees her mum; her brother is a pain and tells her to get a move on and just die; and most of all she has to deal with the pain of having leukaemia. She has go to the hospital a lot and most of the time is in a lot of pain.
In the end Tessa finds her guy and does all the things she wanted to do on her list then nature takes its toll and her short life ends. Thankfully when she does die, she dies happily.
by Kate S
CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC by Sophie Kinsella
I have recently finished reading this book and I really enjoyed it.
It was about a young girl called Rebecca Bloomwood who had an addiction to shopping. She worked as a financial journalist and only got paid £21 000 a year so her shopping addiction got her into a lot of debt.
The book gives you a very good description of the way her life was and it helps you to understand the problems she went through.
Rebecca lived in Fulham which is near London. She also worked in London City Centre so she always had access to big and expensive shops. Becky thought her life was boring until she did a piece of writing in the national paper. The presenters of “Morning Coffee” read this and asked her to appear on the show to warn people about and help them with their financial worries. This was a huge hit and because of this, the producers asked her if she would like to do a regular performance on the show.
The story turns out that she gets enough money to pay off all her debts and buy lots of clothes. She also falls in love with her ex-boss who loves her too so they start dating.
This story is a bit like a grown up fairy-tale and I would highly advise anyone to read it. Especially if they like shopping.
By Bethany S
THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie
I choose this book because my teacher recommended it.
The book begins with Arnold explaining that he was born with “water on the brain”, but the real name for it is hydrocephalus. This means that he has extraordinary physical features to his body like: 42 teeth, poor eye – sight and frequent seizures.
His family, like many on Native American reservations, is poor. This is described in graphic detail when his dad has to shoot his dog, Oscar, to avoid paying the veterinary bills. Arnold’s life is brightened up by his only human friend, Rowdy. Rowdy is always being described by Arnold as “the toughest kid on the Rez”. Rowdy has an abusive home life: his father is a heavy drinker and is constantly beating up him and his mother. Arnold then transfers to Reardan High, a sparkling high school, full of wealthy white kids, with a computer room and chemistry labs. He’s the only Indian — if you don’t count the school mascot. Early on, Arnold fears being beaten up by the jocks because he is an Indian. This is not the case as he is considered hard, and soon earns himself a place on the school basketball team. However, all the kids in the Rez consider him to be a traitor, and when both basketball teams meet to play, a full scale riot almost breaks out. When Arnold finally realizes that he is smarter than most of the white kids that he goes to school with, he wins the heart of Penelope, the most popular girls from school.
This is an absolutely great book. A MUST READ!
By Amand C
TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY by Jay Asher
I chose this book because I liked the cover basically and when my teacher told me what it was about, it seemed like my kind of book and I really wanted to read it.
The book is about a guy called Clay Jenkins who comes home from school to find a box full of tapes on his doorstep. He found out that they are from Hannah Baker who killed herself a few weeks before.
There are seven tapes in the box. He puts the first tape in the player and is in shock because he can’t believe that she is speaking because she is dead. She explains that the tapes contain a reason and a name: she explains why this person contributes to her death. The tapes are passed on to the people on the list and they have to be passed on so that everyone that is on the tapes knows how they hurt her.
Clay listens to the tapes. In the box there is also a map. Hannah has marked places on the map where the people who hear the tapes can visit to see the place where the event happened.
Clay finds out that he is on cassette five. You see Clay was in love with Hannah, but he didn’t think she felt the same. On the tape he finds out that she liked him back but she was afraid of saying anything, so at a party they get a little close, they kiss and cuddle but then Hannah has a sort of fit and makes Clay go away.
I don’t want to spoil the ending for you so I won’t tell it. I liked this book because it made me think about my life more, and even the smallest of things could affect someone.
By Rebecca L.
This book was so exciting. I was hooked from the very start. I wanted so much to finish it because it was amazing. It was such a good book but it was so sad it ended up making me cry.
The book was about a boy called Clay who came home to find a box full of audio tapes. The tapes were made by Hannah Baker who Clay had feelings for but Hannah had committed suicide two weeks earlier. The tapes are about what happened that caused her to kill herself. Clay listens and goes to the place Hannah’s voice tells him to. Clay turns out to be number 9 on her tapes and she tells him that she had feelings for him; he was only on the tapes so he could understand why and he didn’t belong on the same list as the others. (It was at this point I started to cry.)
The book was so emotional and exciting and it ended so well. You really got to feel how Hannah felt leading up to her suicide.
(An S2 pupil.)
NO TIME FOR GOODBYE by Linwood Barclay
No Time For Goodbye is about a girl called Cynthia who wakes up to find her family are missing. She spends the next 25 years of her life trying to solve the mystery. She finds out loads of interesting information about her lost family and by the end of the book she knows the full story.
My favourite part of the story was at the end when she has found her dad. Her dad is about to die, so he drives off a cliff to save Cynthia. He took the people who were trying to hurt Cynthia over the cliff as well.
The ending of the book is really good because it shows that Cynthia’s life has changed for the better. My favourite character is Cynthia because the book was mainly about her and how losing her family affected her life.
I really enjoyed reading this book and would rate it 8/10.
By Shannon M.
Blackman, Malorie: Tell Me No Lies
Gemma longs for her lost mother, taking comfort from the cuttings in her scrapbook: pictures of mothers who loved their children come what may. Mike is new to the area: a boy with a terrible secret to hide, a secret about his missing mother. Gemma and Mike are two kids hurt by their past and now inextricably linked. This novel is about lies and how even lies told with the best of intentions can have awful consequences. It provides several good topics for discussion.
Haddon, Mark: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
The narrator of this remarkable novel is Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old boy who has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, that means he is unable to understand human emotions. He is, however, highly intelligent and can rattle off all kinds of facts and figures, particularly those pertaining to his speciality – maths. The book provides a lot of topics to discuss. Researching Asperger’s Syndrome (and/or Autism) while reading the book will make it a lot easier to understand the main character.
Klass, David: You Don’t Know Me
Fourteen-year-old John creates alternative realities in his mind as he tries to deal with his mother’s abusive boyfriend, his crush on a beautiful, but shallow classmate, and other problems at school. This is a good choice of book for the Personal Study as it is so different in style.
Pratchett, Terry: Guards! Guards!
The novel introduces the recurring unlikely heroes of the Night Watch, a ragged bunch of city guards who, thanks to the official policing of thievery by the Thieves Guild, aren’t actually supposed to do anything normally. This book has many themes and characters which develop throughout the novel. It helps to have some knowledge of other books in the Discworld series.
Walker, Alice: The Color Purple
The story is told through a series of letters written by the main character, Celie. Set in 1930’s America, a time when racism and sexism are major issues, the book covers twenty years of Celie’s life from her first letter to God, written when she was 14.
Zephaniah, Benjamin: Face
This book deals with friendship, love, self-image and peer pressure, but with one main twist that makes the book just that bit more appealing. The main message of this book is “Not to judge a book by its cover”.
Allen-Gray, Alison: Lifegame (Science-fiction; genetic engineering)
Fella and Grebe have grown up on an island, believing that the world beyond its shores is toxic and that the islanders are the lucky survivors of a cataclysmic disaster. Then Fella, an orphan, discovers a diary, hidden fifteen years ago by his mother – a woman who seemingly came from the Outside, from a world not run by the Officiate. When the two friends eventally escape from the island they find out that everything they have ever known is a lie.
Ashley, Bernard: The Play of Little Soldier
Kaninda is an ex-child soldier from East Africa, orphaned and living in London. When a child from a nearby estate is hit by a car he is drawn into an inter-estate conflict. The story combines current conflicts in London with real war in Africa.
Ashworth, Sherry: Paralysed (Coping with disability)
It was just like any other Saturday morning for Simon – a rugby match at school, with his girlfriend Emma in the crowd. But then an accident changes everything; leaving Simon paralysed, Emma devastated and Simon’s best mate Danny stricken with guilt. How do you cope when your future is snatched from you? Emma’s determined that her relationship with Simon will withstand the trauma – but he’s not so sure. And while Danny wants to stand by Simon, his growing closeness to Emma threatens all three of them. An honest look at the effects of disability on three teenagers who are changed forever by the accident.
Atwood, Margaret: The Handmaid’s Tale (Science Fiction)
This is the story of Offred, one of the few women in the Republic of Gilead left with functioning ovaries, whose only function it is to breed. If she deviates, she will be hanged as a dissenter. But Offred is determined to find a way out.
Austen, Jane: Persuasion (Classic – Romance)
At twenty-seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.
Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice (Classic Romance)
When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.
Austen, Jane: Sense and Sensibility (Classic Romance)
Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love – and its threatened loss – the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.
Bertagna, Julie: The Opposite of Chocolate (Teenage Pregnancy)
It’s a long, hot summer – and a climactic one. For 14-year-old Sapphire it brings the awesome, terrifying realisation that she is pregnant – a discovery that catapults her into the eye of a storm as her body, her future, her life, become a battleground for everyone’s needs but her own. Meanwhile, out in the humid urban night, a mysterious firebug is running wild, working out his own anger and confusion with dramatic consequences. Somehow, from this cauldron of emotion and fear, Sapphire must find a way to take control of her life – and make the most agonising and lonely of choices.
Bowler, Tim: Midget
Midget is fifteen and three feet tall. Trapped in a body he hates, Midget is tortured by his cruel older brother Seb. His father is kind, but unaware of Seb’s treatment of Midget. But Midget can sail and his dream is to sail his own boat. Everyone says it’ll take a miracle, but that’s when Midget starts to realise that he has a special power. He can make things happen. But in the process people get hurt – including his brother Seb.
Bowler, Tim: River Boy (Coping with loss)
Grandpa is dying. He can barely move his hands any more but stubborn as ever refuses to stay in hospital. He’s determined to finish his last painting, ‘River Boy’, before he goes. At first Jess can’t understand his refusal to let go, but then she too becomes involved in the mysterious painting. When she meets the river boy himself, she finds she is suddenly caught up in a challenge of her own that she must complete – before it’s too late.
Bowler, Tim: Shadows (overcoming fear, standing up for what you believe in, friendship)
“Shadows” is a gritty, uncompromising book and also, unusually, a boy’s love story. It focuses on Jamie, a fifteen-year-old squash prodigy and his relationship with his overbearing father, who is determined that his son will achieve the success he himself never enjoyed and drives the boy to a point almost beyond endurance. Then Jamie finds a girl hiding in his shed, and in helping her to escape from the danger that is pursuing her, he is at last able to deal with his own problems. He realises that he can’t run away for ever. He has to come out of the shadows and face up to his father, whatever the cost. It contains strong themes of overcoming fears, helping others, and standing up for what you believe.
Bowler, Tim: Starseeker (Death of a parent, peer-pressure, loneliness)
After two years of grieving for his dead father, also a virtuoso pianist, Luke is still troubled and unable to connect properly with the normality of his new circumstances. He has become involved in the illegal antics of three local village boys, and their latest plan, to have Luke burgle the house of a rich widow, is doomed to failure. That Luke actually goes through with the plan is madness-but his actions open up a far bigger issue in the shape of a young girl who shouldn’t be in the house at all. Skin, the gang leader, knows nothing of Luke’s discovery and demands results. His actions are violent and potentially lethal. Luke’s own redemption has never seemed so far away.
Bowler, Tim: Storm Catchers (Revenge, family secrets)
Fin is devastated by guilt when his sister, Ella, is kidnapped. She is snatched away from the house in the middle of a storm. As the kidnappers make their demands, Fin’s guilt is replaced by a fierce determination to find his sister by whatever means he can, and bring the criminals to justice. But as the drama unfolds, a complex web of family secrets is revealed. It emerges that Ella’s kidnapping is revenge for mistakes Fin’s father made, years before. The consequences will change all their lives forever.
Butcher, Andrew: The Time of the Reaper (Breakdown of society, science-fiction)
They call it the Sickness. Nobody knows what causes it or where it comes from. Nobody knows why it only seems to affect the adult population but everyone knows that if you catch it and you’re over 18, you die. All around the world, teenagers like Travis, Richie, Mel, Jessica and Simon, find themselves thrown together and forced to cooperate. A world without rules is not the utopia many survivors thought it would be. Everything, now, is deadly serious. Those who can’t adjust to their new situation find themselves going the same way as the adults. Factions form quickly. Some want to take what they need through strength of arms, but others – the most organised – want to try to rebuild the world their parents left behind. Restoring society will be hard, but not impossible. After all, they reason, the worst is over. But they’re wrong. It’s only just begun.
Calcutt, David: The Terrible Fate of Humpty Dumpty – A play (Bullying)
When Terry Dumpton starts at a new school, he becomes the victim of a deadly gang.
Charriere, Henri: Papillon (Autobiography)
A classic memoir of prison breaks and adventure – a bestselling phenomenon of the 1960s. Condemned for a murder he had not committed, Henri Charriere (nicknamed Papillon) was sent to the penal colony of French Guiana. Forty-two days after his arrival he made his first break, travelling a thousand gruelling miles in an open boat. Recaptured, he went into solitary confinement and was sent eventually to Devil’s Island, a hell-hole of disease and brutality. No one had ever escaped from this notorious prison — no one until Papillon took to the shark-infested sea supported only by a makeshift coconut-sack raft. In thirteen years he made nine daring escapes, living through many fantastic adventures while on the run – including a sojourn with South American Indians whose women Papillon found welcomely free of European restraints.
Coleman, Michael: The Cure (Religion v Science)
It is the year 274 AD in a world that has completely rejected religion and a regime rules which forbids faith of any kind. Instead, it is Darwin who is The Saviour, and only in science is everyone allowed to believe. In this world, Raul and his sister Arym live in a nuture house, cared for by the state, having never know their mother. It is a strict but simple life, until Raul begins to have doubts about the regime and rebels against the unwavering and unquestioning beliefs of those around him. As a result of his rebellion, Raul and his sister are sent away to The Santorium, to be ‘Cured’ of their disbelief. But this is only the beginning.
Cormier, Robert: After the First Death
On the outskirts of a small American town, a bus-load of young children is being held hostage. The hijackers are a cold and ruthless group, opposed to the secret government agency Inner Delta. At the centre of the battle are three teenagers. Miro is the terrorist with no past and no emotions. Kate is the bus driver, caught up in the nightmare, and Ben is the General’s son who must act as a go-between.
Cormier, Robert: The Chocolate War (Bullying)
The headmaster of Trinity College asks Archie Costello, the leader of the Vigils, a secret society that rules the school, to help with the selling of 20,000 boxes of chocolates in the annual fund-raising effort. Archie sees the chance of adding to his power – he is the Assigner, handing out to the boys tasks to be performed if they are to survive in the school. Freshman, Jerry Renault, a newcomer to the corrupt regime, refuses to sell chocolates. Enormous mental and physical pressure is put on him but he will not give in – the result is an inevitable, explosive tragedy.
Cormier, Robert: Fade (Horror)
Imagine being able to become invisible at will. Paul soon finds that the ability he has inherited is more of a burden than he could ever have imagined.
Cormier, Robert: In the Middle of the Night (Revenge, guilt)
“Children die in theatre disaster. Usher, 16, questioned” read the newspaper report. Years later that usher still receives threatening phone calls, but now the caller has a new plan of revenge and a new subject – his 16-year-old son.
Cormier, Robert: Tenderness (Crime)
Lori is looking for tenderness; she leaves home to hitchike to Massachusetts. In a diner she sees the face of Eric Poole, a convicted murderer, on TV. Eric is also looking for someone to be tender with. Lori and Eric meet, and an ill-fated trust develops between them.
Curtis, Vanessa: Zelah Green, Queen of Clean Teenagers with problems – OCD, depression etc.)
My name is Zelah Green and I am a Cleanaholic. I spend most of my life on Germ Alert. Or Dirt Alert. It’s a miracle I ever get to school.My life was going OK despite that – you know, school, best friend, bad hair days – until four weeks ago. That’s when Dad vanished.Now my stepmother has packed me off to a place with some crazy people. So I’m stuck with the Doc and Alice, Lib, Caro and Sol.Sol, who doesn’t speak. Sol, who has brown eyes and olive skin. Sol, who I actually want to touch. Now I’m on Flirt Alert!Maybe, just maybe, something good could happen.
Dickinson, Peter: AK (War)
Paul Kagomi’s most precious possession is his AK – his gun. He is a warrior, a boy soldier, trained for a terrible war in the African bush. He doesn’t remember his real parents. For him his father is Michael, who leads the guerrilla group, and his mother is the war. Peace comes – and Paul buries his gun and goes to school. But it does not last. Soldiers come to burn the school and kill the children, and Paul must flee through the bush to find his gun and then…Will it be war once more or is there another way?
Dogar, Sharon: Falling
Neesha is afraid – haunted by the fragments of a nightmare about a girl falling, far away and a long time ago. Just when the echoes in her head threaten to overwhelm her, a boy unexpectedly comes to her rescue.
Doherty, Berlie: Dear Nobody (Teenage Pregnancy)
The story of two teenagers with an unplanned pregnancy, told from their points of view.
Farnell, Chris: Mark II (Cloning)
Just when Mark II Mark-the-clone seems settled as a thorough replacement of the original Mark, we realise that no one’s heard the last of that original Mark, or the secret circumstances behind his death.
Fine, Anne: The Tulip Touch (Also – Drama script – Peer pressure, abusive relationships)
Why is Tulip always in trouble? And why does Natalie find Tulip’s dangerous games so fascinating. A powerful story about troubled teenagers and their relationship to the adult world.
Golding, William: Lord of the Flies (Survival, prejudice)
Golding’s best-known novel is the story of a group of boys who, after a plane crash, set up a fragile community on a previously uninhabited island. As memories of home recede and the blood from frenzied pig-hunts arouses them, the boys’ childish fear turns into something deeper and more primitive.
Hearn, Julie: Ivy
The only beautiful thing in Ivy’s drab life is her glorious red hair. At a young age, her locks made her the target of Carroty Kate, a ‘skinner’. She recruited Ivy to help her coax wealthy children away from their nannies so that she could strip them of their clothes – clothes worth a fortune in the markets of Petticoat Lane. It is years before Ivy escapes and finds her way back to her in-laws. Once there, she finds respite in laudanum. But before she can settle into a stupor and forget the terrible things she has done, Ivy is spotted by a wealthy pre-Raphaelite painter. Oscar Fosdick needs a muse (until now he has had to use his domineering mother as a model, something not conducive to producing his best work, he finds). To him, Ivy is perfect, a stunner. Realising quickly that this painter has more money than sense, Ivy’s in-laws order her to sit for him, and to do anything else he demands. But not everyone is happy. Oscar’s mother is determined to get rid of Ivy. Oscar’s famous neighbour is determined to paint her. Carroty Kate is determined to find her, and Ivy herself is determined to escape.
Hearn, Julie: The Merrybegot (Witchcraft, superstition, prejudice, repression)
This is the story of Nell who lives with her grandmother, the local cunning woman and healer, in a West Country village in the seventeenth century. When one of the minister’s daughters falls pregnant, she and her sister attempt to conceal it by accusing Nell of putting a curse on them. The Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, is called in and in an atmosphere of fear, the local villagers turn nasty and Nell’s grandmother falls victim to their hatred. Nell is all alone, and in great danger.
Hill, Susan: The Woman in Black by Susan (Ghost)
Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral Mrs Alice Drablow, the house’s sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. It is not until he glimpses a wasted young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black – and her terrible purpose.
Hornby, Nick: Fever Pitch (Football)
Fever Pitch is both an autobiography and a footballing bible rolled into one. Nick Hornby pinpoints 1968 as his formative year–the year he turned 11, the year his parents separated, and the year his father first took him to watch Arsenal play. The author quickly moved “way beyond fandom” into an extreme obsession that has dominated his life, loves, and relationships.
Also available – Fever Pitch: the Screenplay
Jauncey, James: The Witness (Thriller set in near future in the Scottish Highlands)
I’m the only one who saw what they did…From the shelter of the pine trees, through the falling snow, John watched as the men kicked down doors, shattered windows and fired their first shot. It was a long time before he stopped trembling, before he dared to return and see if anyone needed his help. Among the ruins he found a small boy, too terrified to tell John his name. Now the only witness and the sole survivor are running for their lives. John knows how to look after himself, how to live off the land and his wits. But now he’s looking after someone else and every choice he makes could mean the difference between life and death…”The Witness” is set in the Scottish Highlands in the near future, when the disastrous nationalization of the land has led to a violent uprising.
Kenrick, Joanna: Red Tears (Self–harm)
Emily Bowyer is a normal, confident teenager – lots of friends, loving family and a good student. But beneath the surface she has a wretched secret. For Emily, life isn’t as much fun as it would appear. Her friends are going off her and her parents only seem to care about her troubled brother. Plus, she’s expected to complete hours of homework, to excel in her exams, to be the perfect student. Tension, pressure, anxiety, anger and self-hatred. Where does it go when no one will listen? Emily has found a way to let it all out, a way to cope when life is overwhelming. But it is private. No one must ever find out. “Red Tears” is a shocking, well-researched novel about a girl who self-harms. It offers a bold and candid look at a phenomenon that afflicts thousands of Britain’s teenagers.
Kesey, Ken: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Mental illness, prejudice, institutional
Here is the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Big Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the struggle through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient who witnesses and understands McMurphy’s heroic attempt to do battle with the awesome powers that keep them all imprisoned.
Keyes, Daniel: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (science, genetics, intelligence v humanity)
Charlie Gordon, IQ 68, is a floor sweeper, and the gentle butt of everyone’s jokes, until an experiment in the enhancement of human intelligence turns him into a genius. But then Algernon, the mouse whose triumphal experimental transformation preceeded his, fades and dies, and Charlie has to face the possibilty that his salvation was only temporary.
King, Stephen: The Shawshank Redemption (Prison novel)
A novel telling of unfair imprisonment and escape.
Klass, David: You Don’t Know Me (Family; abuse; growing up)
Fourteen-year-old John lives with his single mother and her boyfriend, a man who is violent towards him whenever John’s mother is not around. John believes that if he tells his mother about the abuse, she will side with “the man who is not my father”. There’s a lot of pain, humour and horror in this book before John resolves his relationship with his mother and lets her begin to know him.
Malley, Gemma: The Declaration (Science Fiction – over-population / longevity)
Anna Covey is a ‘Surplus’. She should not have been born. In a society in which ageing is no longer feared, and death is no longer an inevitability, children are an abomination. Like all Surpluses, Anna is living in a Surplus Hall and learning how to make amends for the selfish act her parents committed in having her. She is quietly accepting of her fate until, one day, a new inmate arrives. Anna’s life is thrown into chaos. But is she brave enough to believe this mysterious boy? This is a story about a society behind a wall, and the way in which two young people seize the chance to break free.
Marks, Graham: Zoo (Eugenics – genetic engineering)
Cam Stewart thinks he is the ordinary boy with an ordinary American lifestyle until he is kidnapped, held up for ransom, runs away and finally uncovers the truth of his birth and upbringing.
McGowan, Anthony: The Knife that Killed Me (Bullying, being an outsider, violence)
The story of how Paul, the narrator, is dragged into using a knife by Roth, a bullying teenager he fears and hates.
McKenzie, Sophie: Blood Ties (Cloning)
When Theo discovers the father he thought died when he was a baby is still alive, he’s determined to find him. The clues lead him to the lonely Rachel, who has problems of her own, including parents who compare her unfavourably to her long-dead sister. But when Rachel and Theo are attacked by men from RAGE – the Righteous Army against Genetic Engineering – at Rachel’s school disco, they are rescued by strangers and taken to meet a mysterious figure. There, they both make some startling discoveries about their identities, which will affect their past, present, and future in dramatic and life-altering ways.
Michaels, Rune: Genesis Alpha (Genetics)
Josh worships his older brother, Max. They look alike, they sound alike, and they even have the same interests, including their favourite online role playing game, Genesis Alpha. But Josh and Max have a much deeper connection. When Max was very ill with cancer, it was Josh’s stem cells, harvested before he was born, that saved Max’s life. Then, suddenly everything changes. Max is arrested right in the middle of a game of Genesis Alpha for the brutal murder of a young girl. As the family are flung into turmoil, Josh desperately tries to reconcile the brother he knows and loves with the monster they are talking about on television. At the same time he also struggles with an unnerving sense of guilt: if his cells had not saved Max’s life, would this girl still be alive? But this is only the beginning, and before the end, Josh uncovers startling revelations – revelations that could have devastating implications not only for Max’s future, but for Josh’s as well.
Needle, Jan: A Game of Soldiers (War)
This play tells the story of Falkland Islands children who find an escaped Argentinean solder.
Orwell, George: Animal Farm (Political Satire)
Having got rid of their human master, the animals of Manor Farm look forward to a life of freedom and plenty where “All animals are equal”. However, before too long, the animals have a new master in the shape of Napolean and “some animals are more equal than others”. Orwell’s chilling story of the betrayal of idealism through tyranny and corruption, is as fresh and relevant today as when it was first published in 1945.
Orwell, George: Nineteen Eighty-Four (Politics / Science-fiction)
Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.
Paddock, Terry: Come Clean (Loss, addiction)
Justine is trying to cope with the desperate loneliness she feels now her twin brother, Joshua, no longer lives at home. After trying to drown her feelings with her first ever experiment with alcohol, she is woken early by her mother one Sunday morning. Bundled into the car by her livid parents, Justine is driven to Come Clean, a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts and alcoholics. Confused, vulnerable and covered with vomit from her first hangover, Justine is forcibly admitted to cure her “addiction”. There she begins a strict boot-camp routine of humiliation and discipline, where they attempt to strip her of her identity in order to rebuild her a better person. Justine escapes the daily torture at the centre by talking to Joshua in her head, reflecting back on their childhood and trying to puzzle out why her brother was a tortured soul…and why he chose to leave her.
Peet, Mal: Keeper (Destruction of the environment, the supernatural, football)
In a newspaper office, Paul Faustino, South America’s top football writer, sits opposite the man they call El Gato – the Cat – the world’s greatest goalkeeper. On the table between them stands the World Cup…In the hours that follow, El Gato tells his incredible story – how he, a poor logger’s son, learns to become a World Cup-winning goalkeeper so good he is almost unbeatable. And the most remarkable part of this story is the man who teaches him – the mysterious Keeper, who haunts a football pitch at the heart of the claustrophobic forest.
Peet, Mal: The Penalty
As the city of San Juan pulses to summer’s sluggish beat, its teenage football prodigy El Brujito, the Little Magician, vanishes without trace. Paul Faustino, South America’s top sports journalist, is reluctantly drawn into the mystery. As a story of corruption and murder unfolds, he is forced to confront a bitter history of slavery, and the power of the occult.
Russell, Willy: Blood Brothers a play (Fate)
In a Liverpudlian West Side Story: twin brothers are separated at birth because their mother cannot afford to keep them both. She gives one of them away to wealthy Mrs Lyons and they grow up as friends in ignorance of their fraternity until the inevitable quarrel unleashes a blood-bath. One of the longest-running and most successful ever West End musicals, “Blood Brothers” premiered at the Liverpool Playhouse in January 1983.
Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein (Horror)
The epic battle between man and monster reaches its greatest pitch in the famous story of “Frankenstein”. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor himself to the very brink. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship …and horror.
Shreve, Anita: The Pilot’s Wife (Adultery, Betrayal)
Being married to a pilot has taught Kathryn Lyons to be ready for emergencies, but nothing has prepared her for the late-night knock on her door and the news of her husband’s fatal crash. As Kathryn struggles through her grief, she is forced to confront disturbing rumours about the man she loved and the life that she took for granted. Torn between her impulse to protect her husband’s memory and her desire to know the truth, Kathryn sets off to find out if she ever really knew the man who was her husband. In her determination to test the truth of her marriage, she faces shocking revelations about the secrets a man can keep and the actions a woman is willing to take.
Shusterman, Neal: Unwind (Abortion, adolescence)
Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together through desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing all the while that their lives are hanging in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthdays, they can’t be harmed. But when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away. Neal Shusterman challenges readers’ ideas about life – not just where it begins and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.
Singer, Nicky: Feather Boy (Bullying, Loss)
Robert Nobel, the school pariah, triumphs over his own fears and the school bully, in this tale of self-empowerment, legend and death.
Strachan, Linda: Spider (Joy-riding, guilt, abuse, peer-pressure, teenage relationships)
A hard-hitting novel about teenage love, loyalty and fast cars. Spider is on his last warning. If he’s caught joyriding again he’ll be sent down, no questions asked. He’s trying to stick to the straight and narrow but his girlfriend Deanna and mate Andy reckon he should risk one last run.
Strasser, Todd: Boot Camp (discipline, personal freedom)
When Garrett’s parents send him to disciplinary boot camp, Lake Harmony, he’s convinced that all he has to do is follow the rules and he’ll be out in no time. After all, he shouldn’t really be there, should he? But his minders at Lake Harmony have other ideas. Subjected to months of physical and psychological abuse, Garrett struggles to convince them he’s changed. But will he have to abandon all his convictions to do so – or is escape the only option?
Steinbeck, John: Of Mice and Men (Loneliness, prejudice, the American Depression)
“Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place …With us it ain’t like that.We got a future …because I got you to look after me and you got me to look after you.” George and Lennie are migrant American labourers -the one alert and protective and the other strong, stupid and potentially dangerous. This is the story of their relationship and their dreams of finding a more stable and less lonely way of life.
Waite, Judy: Forbidden
Fifteen-year-old Elinor has been told for as long as she can remember that she is “lucky. So lucky.” True Cause Followers live without phones, electricity, newspapers or laughter; they eat fruit and rice; sleep in sheds outside the grounds of their savior’s massive mansion; and work to convert Outsiders before the world’s imminent Endtime. Elinor is one of the Chosen, set to become Bonded to the savior as one of his Brides. But when she accidentally meets an Outsider in the woods, tiny flashes of memory arise and seeds of doubt spring up. Waite sticks faithfully to Elinor’s perspective; when readers guess Elinor’s history earlier than she does, it’s because she’s been so sheltered and never taught to think critically. Her thoughts break away from repetitive cult mantras and then spring back as she struggles to find the truth.
Waite, Judy: A Trick of the Mind
Both Matt and Erin’s fathers are missing, but Erin has learned to use her skills as a magician for protection and refuge, while Matt struggles with a reputation as a troublemaker and an inability to focus. Readers know how neither teen is seeing the truth of things and that their own wishes, dreams, and fears shape each person’s conclusions and beliefs. Matt admires Kirsty and wants to believe that she’s really interested in him and not her apparent boyfriend, Billy, the local bully. On the other hand, Erin thinks Matt is romantically inclined in her direction. Misconceptions pile up and disaster looms when a death occurs.
Waterhouse, Lynda: Cut Off (Sibling Rivalry, Self-harm, Eating disorders)
Ava feels out of place in her high-achieving, confident family, and this feeling of isolation only becomes stronger when she fails to land her dream work placement. When Ava discovers that her beautiful, successful sister Victoria had a hand in this failure, Ava’s anger knows no limits. She doesn’t know that while Victoria appears so confident and successful, in truth she is struggling under the pressure to keep up this persona and stay part of the ‘broadband brain set’ at school.
Wells, HG: The Time Machine (Time-travel, Science-fiction)
Written in 1895 the Time Machine is an early example of time travel. The Traveller uses his machine to visit many different eras. In 802,701 A.D he discovers a communistic community that is quite peaceful. The Eloi had no conflict and because of that there was no need for improvements thus their culture was stagnating. The Traveller discovers that under the surface things are not as they seem.
Wyndham, John: The Midwich Cuckoos (Science-fiction)
Cuckoos lay eggs in other birds’ nests. The clutch that was fathered on the quiet little village of Midwich, one night in September, proved to possess a monstrous will of its own. It promised to make the human race look as dated as the dinosaur.