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Top 7 teen authors you shouldn't ever forget

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Growing up we all had our favourite authors: when their new book came out we had to have it instantly, even if it meant ringing our dad whilst he was at work to make sure he went to WHSmith at lunchtime on the day of release so you had it once you got home from school. No, just me?

We all had a go-to author that taught us life lessons and triggered our imaginations through our teenage years. To celebrate coming of age through literature, and in light of the film release of John Green’s Paper Towns, we decided to have a little look at our very favourite teenage fiction authors. Get ready for some nostalgia...

John Green

With the adaptation of his novel Paper Towns (2008) now in cinemas, it would be really rude not to have John Green on our list of top teen authors. And because he is absolutely fantastic, obviously.

It really is a testament to Green that hearts all over the world broke whilst reading The Fault In Our Stars, which remains probably his most famous work. The beauty and delicacy of his writing made each reader feel as though they were experiencing this first love, and loss, along with the characters. Green managed to absolutely nail the essence and emotions of teenagers - that boys and love and lust can seem like the be all and end all - whilst really emphasising that your health and family are the most prized possessions you will ever own.

With novels Paper Towns and Looking For Alaska, Green engages with readers on a personal level, highlighting the lessons we have to learn about not only ourselves and our innocent naivety, but also about others and how we let the actions of them affect us. In Green’s novels we live vicariously through Quentin (Paper Towns) and Pudge (Looking For Alaska).

Judy Blume

Let’s not forget this fantastic lady, whose books have sold absolutely millions over the years. Blume has been an important author for teenagers for multiple generations, and isn’t afraid to broach difficult issues in her novels: racism (Iggie's House), menstruation and religion (Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.), divorce (It's Not the End of the World, Just As Long As We're Together), bullying (Blubber), masturbation (Deenie; Then Again, Maybe I Won't) and sex (Forever).

All of these topics resonate hugely with teenagers. A standout is Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, published in 1970. Margaret’s mother within the novel is Christian and her father is Jewish and Margaret struggles to find her own identity, whilst having to deal with all the nasties of being a girl - i.e your first period, your first bra, liking boys, and so on. Blume’s honest writing on these topics has reassured teens over the years what they feel is entirely normal; that they are not weird or losing the plot, nor are they alone in what they are going through.

Watch Judy Blume, speaking in June 2015 about censorship and being banned in the 1980s:

Melvyn Burgess

Speaking of difficult topics… The subject of drugs is one that surfaces for the first time in your teenage years, from the first educational classes at school through to conversations with peers.

The messages can feel mixed and the conversations strained. But with his controversial novel Junk (1996), Burgess approached the subject in a way that managed to be neither preaching or scaremongering.

Junk tells the story of two teenagers who run away when things get a bit tough at home, and join a group of squatters. It’s here they are introduced to and begin taking heroin. As the novel is told in first person by one of the two characters, it is easy to relate to them and their stream of consciousness. Through his characters, Burgess addresses some common misconceptions - such as, by only smoking heroin you won’t get addicted to it. Unsurprisingly, the two become hooked and thus begins their downward spiral.

 

Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins is famed for penning the The Hunger Games trilogy (2008 – 2010). Written in the first person from the perspective of Katniss Everdeen, we are taken into the dystopian world of ‘Panem’ and introduced to the concept of The Hunger Games, where participants aged 12 – 18 are randomly selected to battle to their death.

Collins explores the themes of betrayal and morality as Katniss’ journey calls into question the very structures of her society, and whom she can trust. Through the games, Katniss has to develop attributes to make her well liked by the public - a concept that resonates with teens living modern life through social media.

 

Malorie Blackman

The outgoing Children’s Laureate, who has held the biggest honour in young adult fiction for the past two years, has espoused the need for more sex in teenage literature in order to address controversial subjects head on.

Her own work definitely isn’t scared of tackling difficult subjects – her critically acclaimed Noughts & Crosses series, published between 2001 and 2008, successfully turned the issue of racism on its head and gave us serious pause for thought as teenagers, and she’s also tackled teenage fatherhood and computer hacking in her other works.

Less well known, and aimed at a younger  demographic, is 1995’s Thief! – which sees a 12-year-old girl wrongly accused of a crime before being hurled forward into a dystopian future. All the chills.

Watch Malorie Blackman discussing race in her books:

 

Stephanie Meyer

Meyer is known for the Twilight series, published between 2005 and 2008, which teens across the globe going wild – both for the novels and the subsequent movies. Not only do we encounter two complete heartthrobs, Jacob and Edward, Meyer too touches on themes that resonate with her readership. Strip away the vampires and werewolves, and you are left with protagonist Bella dealing with the complications of divorced parents, moving to a new school and making new friends, and her first love. Bella, like many teenagers, can also be seen struggling with her identity (albeit her feeling more of an affiliation to the vampire world than the human)… 

 

 

Sue Townsend

A little before our time, maybe, but the trials faced by Adrian Mole (aged 13 ¾) in the 1980s are as applicable to teenagers today as they were in Thatcherite Britain. Sue Townsend’s most famous creation suffers through first love, his parent’s divorce, a confusing political climate, and the abject failure to achieve the things that he sets out to achieve. Sound familiar? Of course it does – it’s the inherent teenage experience.

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