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Desperate Dramas

This collection of gritty reads will appeal to people who like solid, real-life dramas. Here are books ranging from reinventing yourself to hide from school bullies to dealing with racial hatred - all strong and compelling reads, the best of their kind. Should suit most 12-14 year olds.

This collection of Desperate Dramas has been selected by Tim Cross and is available from Badger Publishing for 140 (or 126 if you send a cheque with your order). Go to www.badger-publishing.co.uk

Gillian Cross, Calling a Dead Man
(Oxford, 2001, 252 pages, 0 19 271827 4)

Set among the Russian Mafia. This book is all about an exciting search deep into Siberia for a man who has lost his memory and about him being pursued by a persistent and lethal enemy. See review



Alan Gibbons, Caught in the Crossfire
(Orion, 2003, 296 pages, 1 84255 0965 9)

The fairly serious story of a racial dispute in a divided town which is sparked off by the fanatical patriotic league. See review



Dave Pelzer, A Child Called It
(Orion Non-Fiction, 1995, 169 pages, 0 75283 750 8)

A horrifying story of child abuse. This moving true life story is a shocking account of Dave Pelzer's childhood, where he suffered one of the worst cases of child abuse ever. See review



Lee Weatherly, Child X
(David Fickling Books, 2002, 211 pages, 0 385 60393 2)

Jules' life is turned upside-down when her mum and dad split up, and nobody will tell her why, until she realises the shocking truth. See review



Adeline Yen Mah, Chinese Cinderella
(Puffin, 1999, 256 pages, 0141304871)

A true story about a girl fighting for acceptance in a family that doesn't want her. See review



Catherine MacPhail, Dark Waters
(Bloomsbury, 2002, 177 pages, 0 7475 5549)

A fast-paced story about Col, whose older brother is always in trouble with the police, and a strange secret down by the lake. See review



Sarah Dessen, Dreamland
(Hodder, 2002 (first published in 2000), 314 pages, 0 340 85460 X)

After Caitlin's sister Cass runs away, everyone is so caught up in the aftermath that they don't see Caitlin's life falling apart . . . See review



Alan Gibbons, The Edge
(Dolphin Paperbacks, 2002, 182 pages, 1 8455 094 2)

A story of fear and terror as Cathy and her son try to escape the man who has ruled their lives for as long as they can remember. See review



Kate Cann, Escape
(Point, 2003, 365 pages, 0 439 99468 3)

Rowan sets off on a gap year in America, to get away from her nagging parents. However it seems like she has gone from the coals into the fire. See review



Benjamin Zephaniah, Face
(Bloomsbury, 1999, 207 pages, 0 7475 4154 X)

This book is about a boy who nearly gets killed in a car crash. He is lucky to survive, but waking up in hospital he senses that something is wrong. After some time he looks in a mirror and discovers what part of his body really got injured. See review



K.K Beck, Fake
(Scholastic Press, 2003 (first published in 2002), 281 pages, 0 439 98207 3)

Danny goes looking for a new life, and for his real dad, alongside the strange Keith who has recently brained two men. Can he trust this character, or will it be his undoing? Suits older readers. See review



Jaclyn Moriarty, Feeling Sorry for Celia
(Macmillan Children's Books, 2001 (first published 2000 by Pan Macmillan Publishers Australia), 278 pages, 0 330 39725 7)

A lighthearted book written in the form of letters, about a teenage girl living in Sydney, and how she copes when her best friend Celia runs away. See review



Rosie Rushton, Last Seen Wearing Trainers
(Anderson Press, 2002, 212 pages, 1842700650)

15-year old Katie is fed up with her mum and decides to run away with handsome, charming Joe. This is a really good book, with a clever plot that has lots of twists and turns. See review



David Skipper, Life on the Line
(Walker, 2002, 166 pages, 0 7445 9000 0)

A book about how a boy, who lives just by a railway line, copes with drugs, friends and life in general.  A powerful read. See review



Bernard Ashley, Little Soldier
(Orchard Books, 1999, 249 pages, 1 86039 879 0)

A boy who comes to London because of tribal warfare in his East African homeland, but must realise the differences between the two societies if he is to avoid trouble. See review



Keith Gray, Malarkey
(Red Fox, 2003, 197 pages, 0 09 943944 1)

A gripping, fast paced adventure where John, a new kid, has to stop a huge network of bullying and theft around the school. See review of Happy, by the same author



Kevin Brooks, Martyn Pig
(The Chicken House, 2002, 220 pages, 1 903434 51 3)

Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks is a funny, poignant, and shocking story with an amazing ending. It's all about how Martyn struggles to deal with things after a serious accident. See review



Julia Bell, Massive
(Picador, 2002, 240 pages, 0330415476)

Carmen's life is in turmoil - she has a new school to cope with and her anorexic mum is giving her loads of trouble over her weight, and gradually converting her to being anorexic too. See review



Patrick Cave, Number 99
(Oxford University Press, 2002 (first published 2001), 169 pages, 0 19 271878 9)

Kez tries to discover what has happened to her mum, who went missing months ago, before she was taken from the group of travellers they lived with, and put in a foster home. Number 99 is a compelling read. See review



Pete Johnson, The Protectors
(Puffin, 2002 (first published 1998), 200 pages, 0 141 31421 4)

Set in a secondary school, the story follows the trio who are the school's voluntary anti-bully police. How does the mysterious Neil manage to make all the Year 7s so terrified of him? See review



Benjamin Zephaniah, Refugee Boy
(Bloomsbury, 2001, 291 pages, 0 7475 5086 7)

This book is brilliant. It's about Alem's stay in Britain after his father deserted him, due to a war in Ethiopia, which he didn't want Alem to get hurt in. See review



Bali Rai, (Un)arranged Marriage
(Corgi Books, 2001, 272 pages, 0 552 54734 4)

This book is all about Punjabi marriages, and how they are arranged by the parents. This story follows Manny, a boy in Leicester, UK who is determined to do his own thing in life whatever people try to do. See review



Sonya Hartnett, Thursday's Child
(Walker, 2002, 218 pages, 0 7445 5996 0)

Thursday's Child is a great read all about Tin, one of the numerous children of the Flute Family, who develops a strange liking for a life underground. It's also set in the American depression. See review



Rosie Rushton, Waving, Not Drowning
(Andersen, 2003, 215 pp., 1 84270 237)

The stories of three different individuals, who attend the same school, but all have problems. Can they solve them on their own or do they need each other's help? See review



Michael Coleman, Weirdo's War
(Orchard Books, 1996, 181 pages, 1 86039 812 X)

The story of Daniel and Tozer, victim and bully, who are trapped together underground during a flash flood which has left their teacher unconscious. They have no choice, but can they set aside their differences in this strange setting and work together? See review



Mark Swallow, Zero %
(Collins, 2002, 266 pages, 0 00 712649 2)

This story is about a boy who is struck by a rebellious thought - can't he run his life on his own without interference from other people? To prove his point he needs to get precisely Zero Percent in his exam. See review

Quick Pick
- 11 December 2011 -

Continuing the Edge Chronicles series, but a prequel to Midnight over Sanctaphrax, this book leaves Twig behind and ventures back to days before. Quint is the main character, a son of a sky pirate, and the Academe of Sanctaphrax needs his help.

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