Teenage fiction: summer reading

17th August 2001 at 01:00

Get a Life!
By Jean Ure
Wolf Summer
By Andrew Matthews
Falling for Joshua
By Brian Keaney
Orchard Black Apple pound;4.99 each
TES Direct pound;4.49 each
Summertime Blues
By Julia Clarke
Oxford University Press pound;6.99
TES Direct pound;5.99
Knocked Out by my Nunga-Nungas
By Louise Rennison
Piccadilly Press pound;6.99
TES Direct pound;5.99 (020 8324 5119 99p pamp;p per order)

Jean Ure's latest novel has a cover that makes it look like a skateboarding manual for non-readers. But it turns out to be a sensitive account of the suicide of a young man who is bullied for daring to come out as gay at school.

Andrew Matthews's novel opens dramatically with Anna and her boyfriend being caught together by her father. It's decided that Anna must be sent away to her grandmother's house to get over what Dad perceives as an unhealthy relationship. So far, so predictable. But Gran turns out to be involved with a sanctuary for wolves, and Anna is drawn into the lives of the animals and the people who care for them.

Brian Keaney's novel has a heroine who suffers from epilepsy, a subject rarely written about. Keaney has Abi, his heroine, trying to keep her boyfriend, Josh, from finding out. But other problems concerning Abi's sister and her partner and baby bring things to a head and Josh comes up trumps when he discovers the truth. Keaney's style is pedestrian, but his descriptions of Abi's condition from the inside are convincing.

The goat looking out of a blue background on Julia Clarke's novel is also appealing and the story (partly set in France) is equally good, featuring believable family concerns (step-parents, divorce, and so on). The characters come vividly off the page and there is a lovely baby-and-elder-stepbrother relationship, and animals to enjoy.

Louise Rennison has swept all before her with her dazzlingly titled diaries of Georgia Nicholson. The new nunga-nungas are in the same style as the thongs and the snogging and the really big knickers of Rennison's earlier titles. In the United States the novels are published with a glossary and a cult is starting to develop around them. Rennison has been a stand-up comic and her verve and pace are hard to resist.

A longer version of this feature appears in this week's TES

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