Books on Adolescence

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These books give great insights into the adolescent mind, something that is often misunderstood.

  • 1

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    Normal People
    by Sally Rooney

    This book highlights the importance of reputation to teenagers as Connell, a popular student, falls for Marianne, distinctly unpopular. He finds it hard to navigate this new relationship while not affecting his prized reputation at school. Rooney’s writing deftly weaves in both characters storylines throughout their younger years, and writes from the modern adolescent mind so well.

  • 2

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    The Catcher in the Rye
    by J. D. Salinger

    This classic piece of fiction has been described as ‘the handbook of the adolescent mind’. It follows Holden, a critical and intelligent teen, on a solo trip through New York City. Salinger writes in the first person, so we get a constant monologue of what is going through Holden’s head, and this perfectly encapsulates the teenage experience.

  • 3

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    Brighton Rock
    by Graham Greene

    From the premise of this novel, you may not think that it’s about teenagers. However the main character, Pinkie Brown, the leader of a underground mob in Brighton, is only 17. He isn’t a normal adolescent by any means, he is sociopathic and psycopathic, making him interesting to analyse. The teenage aspect comes mainly through the character of Rose. She is 16 and manages to get tied up with the mob when she becomes a witness to a crime. This leads to Pinkie needing to marry her so she cannot testify against him in court. Their relationship is bad. Rose, a naïve girl, gets willingly beaten down by the abusive Pinkie. This emphasises how a vulnerable teenager can be destroyed so easily when mixed up with the wrong people. She is convinced that they are in love and would do anything for him, showing the dark truth behind Pinkie and their relationship. It makes Rose a shell of her previous self, and Pinkie a deranged, and eventually suicidal, killer.

  • 4

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    The Hunger Games
    by Suzanne Collins

    This book is hugely well known in the YA literature scene. It follows Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old girl, as she volunteers to fight to the death in an annual ‘Hunger Games’ after her sister is chosen. 24 teenagers are placed into an arena to murder each other until a lone victor remains. Here we see a teenager who has been forced to mature very quickly. She has had to provide for her family since her father died, and is now faced with possible death. In this book, which is told in the first person, we get a mix of Katniss having to act old for her age and also showing her vulnerable, younger side. I think that this book is compelling and immersive, and it shocks a teenage reader to see another adolescent in this horrifying position.

  • 5

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    Giver (Essential Modern Classics)
    by Lois Lowry

    This book is a classic dystopia that follows Jonas, a boy just reaching adolescence. It is set in the future, a time where all colour, memory, emotion and individuality has been replaced with 'Sameness'. When the children of this civilisation reach the age of 12, they are given a responsibility that will follow them through their life. Jonas gets given the position of 'Receiver of Memory' who must take on the knowledge and experience of life before Sameness to guide the people to make correct decisions. He soon learns the dark truth behind his community and looks for change. This story is all about growth and learning, which mirrors Jonas' entrance into adolescence and adulthood. It is also written very in a very relatable way, even though the initial premise is hard to get your head around.

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