by Charlotte Brontë (age 13+)
A truly gripping novel that all teenage girls should read! It is the story of an orphaned girl who is unloved by her aunt and sent to boarding school. After school, she becomes a strong willed governess and takes a job at the house of Mr Rochester, where she hopes she might have finally found love and companionship. However, Mr Rochester has a dark secret from his past which continues to haunt him in his present. This is one that you really can’t put down once you get started.
Tess of the d’Urbervilles
by Thomas Hardy (age 16+)
As with many of Hardy’s novels, I found this one took a little time and perseverance to get into when I first read it as a teenager. However, it is truly worth the wait! It is an incredibly powerful novel which will rouse your emotions and leave you shocked and, at times, in disbelief. It is a heavy read and deals with many tragic and shocking issues, but it is also a fascinating one, revealing the strength and honour of Tess in a weak and dishonourable Victorian world. Suitable for older teens.
Noughts and Crosses
by Malorie Blackman (age 13+)
This is a really thought-provoking and clever novel which discusses issues of racism and prejudice. Callum (a Nought) and Sephy (a Cross) and their life-long friendship being torn apart by a segregating society in which the Crosses dominate and the Noughts become increasingly oppressed. Blackman skilfully turns the world as we know it upside-down and forces us to see the world from new perspectives and in different ways.
Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen (age 13+)
An absolute must-read for all teenage girls! It is a novel in which you can fall completely in love with Austen’s characters and lose yourself in their world. It is a brilliantly witty story which offers great insight into the world and the way we make assumptions about the people we meet. It is considered one of the greatest love stories of all time and I honestly believe it lives up to that reputation.
by Phillip Pullman (age 13+)
This is another really gripping fantasy novel about a teenage girl, Lyra, living in a strange yet familiar world. Pullman’s writing and creation of this world is wholly convincing and forces the reader to consider new possibilities, questioning the world around them as they know it. It is jam-packed with adventure and action which doesn’t stop, from beginning to end!
by Louisa May Alcott (age 13+)
Another must-read for all teenage girls. The story of the March sisters and their determined sense of fun, happiness and laughter, both in good times and hard times, is one that all teenage girls can relate to. The way that comedy and tragedy are seamlessly blended together makes Alcott’s novel one which will be forever remembered as one of the greats of American literature. The fact that it continues to break its readers’ hearts today is testament to its brilliance!
by Stephanie Meyer (age 16+)
This is a novel and series that readers seem to love or hate! If you don’t take it too seriously and allow yourself to become absorbed in the story which seems doomed by an endless array of obstacles. It’s a good read, suitable for older teens who love a bit of horror, fantasy and adventure as well as a good old fashioned romance!
A Series of Unfortunate Events
by Lemony Snicket (age 11+)
This is another brilliant series about the misfortunes and bad luck of three orphaned children following their parents’ death. The books warn readers that they are unpleasant and unhappy, and certainly live up to this examples of children’s literature and make a point of not treating children like delicate creatures who need a happy ending every day. If you like horror, drama and something a bit different, you’ll love these!
by Jacqueline Wilson (age 12+)
This is a tragic yet beautiful and uplifting story of two best friends, Jade and Vicky. When Vicky is killed at the beginning, the reader is truly shocked. However, once the shock has passed you become captivated by the ongoing friendship between the two girls and Jade’s journey to come to terms with the loss of her friend and move on with her own life. This is a really inspiring and beautifully-written novel for teenage girls to read.
The Other Side of Truth
by Beverley Naidoo (age 14+)
This is a novel which will make you think. The narrative is powerful and emotive from start to finish and raises issues of injustice, political asylum and bullying. The tragedy of the children’s lives in the novel makes you consider hard the life you have and the horrific experiences people living alongside you may have had, as well as as the suffering taking place around the world.