Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors

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Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

7575762Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant’s body in a rich lady’s coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper’s grave.

Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace’s life. But Grace doesn’t know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune.


Amber Kirk-Ford of The Mile Long Bookshelf chooses her Top 10 UKYA books

image1. By Any Other Name by Laura Jarratt – Some amazing action-packed scenes and surprising plot twists!

2. Undone by Cat Clarke – A heartbreaking story of romance and revenge.

3. The Boy From France by Hilary Freeman – Funny, realistic and full of adventure! The characters felt real and it was a nice break from the books I usually read.

4. Emma Hearts LA by Keris Stainton – The reason why I am now obsessed with LA! A really fun story to read, a great way to escape the stresses of real life. It left me smiling!

5. Boys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman – A hard-hitting realistic novel about the drama teenagers face every day. Definitely worth a read!

6. Finding Cherokee Brown by Siobhan Curham – Anyone who has been involved in bullying in any way, should read this book. It carries a really powerful message and manages to stay funny and light-hearted at the same time.

7. Diary of a Mall Girl by Luisa Plaja – A really sweet, romantic story that will make you smile and laugh whilst reading it.

8. Almost True by Keren David – Almost True is full of action and it is scarily realistic. This will keep you hooked from the first page!

9. Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce – An inspiring and truthful story set in a hospital ward about two teenagers with cancer, falling in love. I highly recommend this book.

10. Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper – Set in London in 1861, ‘Fallen Grace’ is about a girl who faces constant danger. It’s an excellent book!

Read Amber’s blog, The Mile Long Bookshelf, or follow her on Twitter, @MileLongBookS


Luisa Plaja’s favourite 20th Century UKYA books

I’m often told that YA/teen fiction is a very new thing, and this sometimes causes me to have a small rant (“It is NOT!”) or a big daydream about all the books I loved when I was a teenager myself. There was certainly a lot of fiction for young adults available in my library. It was marked on the spine with a yellow star-shaped sticker, and many of the books were by British authors. (For more details, see this post about my love of teen fiction through the ages at  Strictly Writing: In Search of a Yellow Star, and why not have a go at the ‘spot the decade’ extract quiz there?)

Here, plucked from my bookcase, is a small selection of my beloved UKYA books from the twentieth century.

Love, Emma xxx by Mary Hooper

Love, Emma xxx, published by Pan Books in 1982, is the story of a student nurse. Told in letters and diary entries, it’s funny, realistic and wonderfully British.  I re-read it many times – it was one of my favourite books, jointly with Janey’s Diary by the same author. I also have five more of Mary Hooper’s novels for the eighties Heartlines series (A Love Like Yours, My Cousin Angie, Opposites Attract and Follow that Dream), and the grittier Megan series from the nineties. Mary Hooper now writes gripping historical novels.

Heartlines series, various authors

This was like a British version of the US Sweet Dreams series. I read every book I could get my hands on in the eighties and I collected as many copies of my own as I could.

Diving In by Kate Cann

Published in 1996 by the brilliant Livewire imprint at The Women’s Press, Kate Cann broke new ground with the realistic way she portrayed Coll’s first romantic relationship. The book has two sequels and the series has been republished by Scholastic. Kate Cann’s latest novel, a dystopia called Witch Crag, is out this year and I can’t wait to read it.

The Frog Prince by Nina Rootes

I’m including this one for nostalgia reasons. The story of a British girl falling in love in Paris, it’s filled with dodgy cultural misunderstandings, coming-of-age angst and actual French dialogue. It was technically a film tie-in, but I read it before I saw the film which I’m pretty sure was (ahem) one of the first ever films I watched using a new-fangled gadget known as a “video”…

A Different Life by Lois Keith

I loved every single book published under the Livewire imprint of The Women’s Press, and I still own many of them. A Different Life was published in 1997 and is about the way Libby’s life changes after a swim in the sea leaves her suffering from a mysterious illness, resulting in a permanent disability. A down-to-earth, realistic novel that has stayed with me.

A Bottled Cherry Angel by Jean Ure

Actually, the first Jean Ure book that springs to mind when I think of my favourite teen books is A Proper Little Nooryeff, but I must have borrowed that one from the library as I couldn’t find it on my shelves. A Bottled Cherry Angel is also great, of course, and I own an ex-library copy that my mum picked up for me in 1986. Jean Ure’s books are always brilliant, portraying in-depth teen relationships with a light touch.

The Girl With Brains in Her Feet by Jo Hodges

This time, I think I saw the film before I read the book, even though I think the book came first. Anyway,  I really enjoyed both. Published by Virago in 1998, this is a lively tale of a teenaged runner and her family and friends, with a suburban seventies East Midlands backdrop.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Last but not least, this classic UKYA novel, first published in 1949, needs no introduction. Funny, moving, gorgeous.

Luisa Plaja is the author of several books for teenagers, including Split by a Kiss, Swapped by a Kiss and her latest novel, Kiss Date Love Hate. She was born in Glasgow, mostly grew up in the suburbs of London and has also lived in Lancaster, Birmingham, Durham, and currently Devon.

Velvet by Mary Hooper

Velvet is a laundress in a Victorian steam laundry. With both her mother and father dead, she is an orphan and has to rely upon her own wits to make a living.The laundry’s work is back-breaking and Velvet is desperate to create a better life for herself.

Then Velvet is noticed by Madame Savoya, a famed medium, who asks Velvet to come to work for her. Velvet is dazzled at first by the young yet beautifully dressed and bejewelled Madame. But soon Velvet realises that Madame Savoya is not all that she says she is, and Velvet’s very life is in danger …

A romantic and thrillingly exciting new novel from an acclaimed and much loved historical writer for teens.

Visit Mary’s website