Books

Top 5 empowering teen novels, chosen by YA author Rebecca Westcott

Books to make troubled teens realise they're not as alone as they think

Empowered teen

Image: Miguel Bruna/Unsplash

Empowering teen novels to give readers a helping hand through their potentially difficult adolescent years. Teacher-turned-author Rebecca Westcott picks her top five.

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Reading this in 1981 was the first time I had ever encountered menstruation, bras or breasts in a book. More than half a century after publication, this coming-of-age book is still relevant.

Z For Zachariah by Robert C O’Brien

Sixteen-year-old Ann Burden has lived alone for an entire year, the last person alive in post-nuclear war America. Or so she thinks. When a scientist in a radiation suit arrives, she thinks that they can work together but things take a sinister turn, and the scientist is not who he seems. 

After The First Death by Robert Cormier

This book aimed at older readers tells the story of three very different teenagers, Miro, Kate and Ben, who are caught up in a challenging hostage situation. The teenage terrorist, the young bus driver and the general’s son – all with their own stakes in the game and all desperate to emerge alive. 

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart

This is a brilliantly funny, thought-provoking read for anyone who wants to take back the power, announce their presence loudly and flick the bird to anyone who tells them that they can’t. 

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Published in 2017 and made into a Netflix film in 2021, this is the story of Viv Carter and the power of ‘keeping your head up’ in the face of sexism, harassment, and cliques. Like my latest book, it’s about girls refusing to be put into boxes. 

Rebecca Westcott is co-author of the Can You See Me Now series

Like a Girl by Rebecca Westcott

Like a Girl by Rebecca Westcott is out now (£8.99, Scholastic). These titles are available to buy or preorder from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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