Lesley Howarth on a novel whose characters take responsibility for themselves…
I wish I’d written Junk instead of Melvin Burgess! It broke down boundaries, ranged across the divide between children’s and young adult fiction and beyond, and broke down many silly prejudices. My daughter took Junk to school for a Year Ten or Eleven literature project. ‘Does your mother know you’ve got this?’ the teacher asked. ‘My mother bought it for me,’ she replied! The first-person voices introduced by character names heading each chapter is a device I’ve wanted to use, also. I came across this very effective narrative tool in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and immediately started to pinch it, when I remembered that Junk had beaten me to it! The power and vitality of the writing jumps off the page. The novel is informed by a strong sense of time and place, authentic background material and a real point, without moralising. Quite the reverse, as its characters take responsibility for themselves. Junk also has the strongest cover design I’ve seen in a long time!
Junk is published by Penguin, 0 14 038019 1, £4.99.
Lesley Howarth’s latest book is Ultraviolet (Puffin, 0 14 131078 2, £4.99).