is an extraordinary book, and walks a terrain that is at once terrifying and totally compelling.
Tar and Gemma are in love. Tar has reasons for running away from home that run deep and sour, whereas Gemma, with her middle-class roots firmly on show, has a deep-rooted lust for adventure. Together they explore the dark world of the streets as, together, they explore the dark world of drugs, moving quickly on from the first hit of heroin that takes them towards bliss, to the next hit that ultimately leads to despair.
Melvyn Burgess packs one hell of a punch in Junk, a book that is certainly unnerving in its honesty about two teenagers and their very different reasons for wanting to flee their families and their lives.
The narrative is simple and to the point, adding fire to the characterisation of the two main protagonists as they dive deeper into their love affair with heroin and each other. Burgess hits hard with his convincing handling of controversial subjects ranging from alcohol abuse, prostitution, teenage pregnancy and child abuse, skilfully moving the plot and the characters forward with a pace that mirrors Tar and Gemma's spiralling relationship.
Junk is a must-read for any teenager who enjoys gritty realism and a gutsy, honest approach to the books they read. But be warned, this book is not for the faint-hearted: the language is realistic, the situations are occasionally terrifying, and Burgess certainly does not glamorise any aspect of Tar and Gemma's lifestyle. Parents of teenagers should take a close look too. Age 12 and over--Susan Harrison
--This text refers to an alternate
"Everyone should read Junk
." (The Times
"Melvin Burgess's ground-breaking Junk remains the best book about teenagers and drugs to this day" (Julia Eccleshare, Guardian Online
"Occasionally a 'teenage novel' comes along which makes one reconsider the whole genre and its potential. Such a book is Melvin Burgess's Junk.
" (Robert Dunbar Children's Books in Ireland
"Brilliantly and sensitively written, it encompasses the raw, savage and ecstatic world of the adolescent mind... a superbly crafted and important book" (TES
"Beautifully written" (The Times