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Five books that helped bridge the gap between teen and adult novels

An unexpected challenge I have found in recent years is choosing books that not only looked interesting, but also by reading them, would allow me to develop as a person. The difficulty was stepping out


An unexpected challenge I have found in recent years is choosing books that not only looked interesting, but also by reading them, would allow me to develop as a person. The difficulty was stepping out of my comfort zone when it came to literature – I soon learnt that although the blurb may cause feelings of discomfort or scepticism, the story would soon teach me something, about attitude or history, or both.

Looking back, I know five books which helped me jump across this gap – yet all of them did it in different ways. That is why I have ordered these five, in the form of a step-by-step guide, to help any who desire to cross this imaginary threshold, but don’t quite know where to look in order to start the ball rolling.

Heartless: Marissa Meyer

This book sets things in motion. What could be a better way of starting than choosing a book that puts a spin on the classic fantasy story, Alice in Wonderland? This cleverly told tale winds its way into the unhinged atmosphere of Wonderland and answers the crucial question: how did The Queen of Hearts, quite simply, become Heartless?

This allows you to dip your feet into adult literature as it makes you reconsider everything you once thought you knew about this well-loved world; Meyer still allows your imagination to be at bay though as excitement and adventure is never far away.

If you don’t read it you will never know the whole truth about such an animated and lovable land for:

“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you”.

The Buffalo Soldier: Tanya Landman

The main reason this book isn’t any higher in the list is because of it being classified as a teen book, having won the Carnegie Medal in 2015. Yet I must say, this book depicts anything but a regular teen novel. Such a novel that instead not only teaches you about post-Civil War America in the late 19th century, but also covers many mature themes like “What… it means to be free”, brutality of many kinds and bitter-sweet survival.

No two chapters are the same, it constantly keeps you on your toes. The title should give you a taste of the hectic yet gripping story – the disarray at that period of time was relentless. Survival in such an area was nearly impossible with intense weather, little food and, just when things couldn’t get any worse, constant danger from every angle hindering any hope of a peaceful and normal life for Charlotte, the protagonist of the novel.

Between Shades of Gray: Ruta Sepetys

I read this novel several years ago but still the story of survival and anguish is embedded in my brain. I love the way Ruta writes her stories (having read several over the years) including Salt to the Sea which I thoroughly recommend.

With it being the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz this year, I believe such a story could not be more important to tell. Lina Vilkas is depicted so admirably as she faces a hell-like experience and yet remains strong and hopeful – such a personality in those circumstances taught me a lot. What I said about a novel helping me develop as a person was mainly aimed at this book as, although we face problems nowhere near as horrific, there is something we can all learn from her behaviour.

The Colour Purple: Alice Walker

You should all be familiar with this novel, as it is considered one of the all-time greats. I believe this is due to its ability to combine such horrendous events with those of beauty, for example with Shug Avery restoring hope in the once lost Celie.

I would liken this to The Buffalo Soldier in regards to the storyline – The Color Purple too follows the same pattern of depicting a life in chaos as no sooner do the characters recover from one thing than another misfortune is bestowed upon them.

One thing I felt was very much prevalent in this book was the honesty of what it is like to be human – such raw realism and imagery not only allowed us to learn about life at the time for those who were black, but also it depicts the power of love so well and in a way that allows us to connect with Celie.

Alias Grace: Margaret Atwood

I thought it was important to finish with this book by Atwood and not The Handmaid’s Tale as I wanted to expose a story I felt was equally as striking. If anything, I feel I enjoyed it more as it is based on a true story, unlike (thankfully) the Handmaid’s Tale. This is why I felt the need to finish with this as all the other books were fictional despite being based around real-life events.

It follows the life of Grace Marks, a notorious murderer from the 19th century as she lives her life inside a prison. Yet only by reading it did I realise I was just as interested in her case as I was in discovering what science was like at the time.

Grace was only 16, our age (or very nearly), when convicted of the crime you will soon find out about; this straightaway connected me to her because you can’t help but wonder what it must have been like to go to prison at this age, let’s just say doing A-levels would be a piece of cake compared to being accused of murder.

Now after reading this I guarantee you will feel comfortable with reading an adult book, having crossed the bridge, you can venture on the side of adult fiction – enjoy.

Hello, I'm Kate. I'm 17 and a born and bred Suffolk girl. I am currently doing my A levels in English Literature, Geography, Biology and also an EPQ.

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