Since I've not got enough time to do real in depth reviews every week on all the books I've read so far this week, I got thinking about what sort of things I could write about. I wanted to write about some of my favourite books but there were too many to pick from and would end up too long. So instead, here are five books about mental teenagers that I have read and thoroughly enjoyed.
The Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger
This book is considered a modern classic and has received acclaim since the day it was published. Our crazy teenage boy here is called Holden Caulfield and he is a middle-class, American, rich idiot who spends the whole book sauntering around New York trying to find something to do. Not much happens, but the characters are no good that nothing needs to happen. Holden has a distinctive style in the way he thinks and speaks which is why a lot of people don't like him, but why others love him to bits. To put it simply, he's mental, and that's just the way I like him. This is a masterpiece. Everyone must read this, there are no excuses.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The only British one out of the five, this has become one of my favourite novels of all time. Alex Burgess is a teenager in a futuristic society where the government have crumbled and the streets are ruled by gangs of adolescents who wreck havoc to ordinary citizens. Alex is completely insane, his hobbies include fist-fights, rape, and listening to Beethoven. By the end of the novel he's probably even more screwed up than where he started which is pretty bad because he was mental to begin with. But this novel is a complete classic and anyone who enjoyed the film will enjoy the book. Alex is an anti-hero; he does bad things but we come to admire him.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This is the only novel where we really get a reason for why our protagonist is crazy as hell. But Charlie is sweet. He's probably the most affectionate and admirable out of the five meaning that he's a brilliant character. This novel is told through a series of Charlie's letters and it's a great coming-of-age novel written in the nineties. There are great characters in it, great music, great book references. It's just great. It's apparent that Charlie is damaged from the start, but instead of laughing with him we want to sit and help him. It is really beautifully written. If you like coming-of-age novels then there is no way you can avoid this.
The Outsiders by SE Hinton
This is a little different to the rest because it's a children's book, but the dudes in it are no less mental than the others. It's basically about the struggle between middle class and working class and the tension that arises from it. Our mental teenager is Ponyboy who is a 'Greaser' and belongs to a gang who get up to all sorts of stuff as they roam the streets together. This is a really great book, for kids and adults. The boys in it are mental, completely insane, but you love them to the point where you feel really moved by the time it's over. It's almost like a sort of Catcher in the Rye for kids, the boys deal with all of the same teenager issues with less swearing and a lot more going on plot-wise.
Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
Henry Chinaski is mental. He's lost it. You don't have to get through half the book to know that Henry is one of the most amazing and complex characters you will come across. Ham on Rye is a coming-of-age novel, and Henry acts as Bukowski's alter-ego so that the author can add in autobiographical details of his life. He grows up in a working-class family during the Depression era, meaning money is tight and jobs are scarce. He's like Holden if he were poor, but a lot more mental. The sex and foul language throughout means this is probably for older readers (16+) but it' definitely worth reading. Oh my god, he is crazy. I love him.
Each one of these books are perfect in every way possible, and I strongly encourage you to read at least one. They opened my mind to the vast expanse of brilliant literature out there, it's not just about old men and girls running around finding boyfriends. There are things we can relate to and find funny and sad and heart-warming. If you'd like to read about some crazy girls instead, you should try The Bell Jar, Lolita or Carrie.
Thanks for reading!