Cathy Hopkins on a book that should be essential reading for all teenagers…
I wish I had written Junk by Melvin Burgess. The story centres on two runaway teens – Tar and his girlfriend Gemma, and their slow decline as they go from their first smoke of dope and experimenting with their first blissful hit of heroin to eventual addiction and all that comes with it. Burgess creates sympathetic characters especially Tar, and it is hard not to feel for him even when he is at his lowest point. I liked a lot of things about this book – it is well-written, has a great plot line as the characters ride an emotional rollercoaster of hurt, hope, expectation, adventure, loss, freedom, disappointment, despair. Tar and Gemma experience it all as they try to make a home and place where they belong and can be happy. Burgess has a great ear for teenage dialogue and I liked the way he switched the point of view in different chapters to change the perspective according to which character was narrating the story. He doesn’t glamorise drugs or play down the reasons teens take them. And he doesn’t judge. He tells it like it is without ever getting preachy nor talking down to his readers.
Junk is published by Puffin (0 14 038019 1, £5.99 pbk).
[image:Cathy Hopkins.JPG:left]Cathy Hopkins’s latest book is Mates, Dates and Sizzling Summers published by Piccadilly Press (1 85340 882 4, £5.99 pbk).