Junk by Melvin Burgess


Written by Melvin Burgess

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Carnegie winner in 1996.

To find out more about this book CLICK HERE to visit the Carnegie Greenaway site

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Junk by Melvin Burgess

Gemma runs away from home to join her boyfriend, Tar in London. Soon they find themselves hooked on heroin and Gemma is forced into prostitution to pay for the drug.


"A Dickens of the future."
Michael Rosen

"A writer of the highest quality with exceptional powers of insight."
Sunday Times

"A very skilled storyteller... this writer involves the reader, plays havoc with the emotions and is certainly not about easy endings."
Wendy Cooling, Books For Keeps

"A gem of a book, which moved me long after I'd put it down."
Books For Keeps on An Angel For May

"Eerie and atmospheric... a thought-provoking book."
Junior Education on An Angel For May

"The writing has a racy momentum which hurtles this gripping blend of violence, tenderness and humour towards its dark, scary conclusion."
Guardian on The Baby and Fly Pie

"Totally gripping and charged with intense emotion."
Mail on Sunday on The Baby and Fly Pie

"An intricate, moving tale, as good on character as on plot detail."
Observer on The Baby and Fly Pie

"Grim realism mingles with lyrical sensitivity in Burgess's nail-biting drama which deserves to be a classic."
TES on The Baby and Fly Pie

"A compelling adventure story and a tribute to the human spirit."
Times on The Baby and Fly Pie

"One of the most powerful books I've read."
Paula Danziger, Treasure Islands on The Baby and Fly Pie

"Occasionally a 'teenage novel' comes along which makes one reconsider the whole genre and its potential. Such a book is Melvin Burgess's Junk."
Robert Dunbar, Children's Books in Ireland

"Bold and cunningly structured - a real novel with an unpatronising tone... Junk offers no easy solutions, but, both in content and execution, it respects the intelligence of its readers, leaving them shaken, probably, but informed and ready to make their own judgements."

"The most talked-about children's book for years."
Mail on Sunday on Junk

"Moving and provocative."
Observer on Junk

"One novel that will leave an indelible impression on all who read it."
Publishers Weekly on Junk

"Junk is guaranteed to shake you and make you realise how awful and brilliant life is."
Teenage Reviewer, Scotland on Sunday

"It is the real thing - a teenage novel for teenage readers."
The Scotsman on Junk

"Brilliantly and sensitively written, it encompasses the raw, savage and ecstatic world of the adolescent mind... a superbly crafted and important book."
TES on Junk

"An honest, authentic look at drug culture."
Time Out on Junk

"Beautifully written."
Times on Junk

"It looks violence and passion straight in the eye... not for the nervous."
Sunday Times on Tiger, Tiger

“Caring only happens when we understand things. Melvin Burgess takes time to explain the implications of Alzheimer’s in The Ghost Behind the Wall. He does it rather beautifully within the context of a novel about a boy, so bored, lonely and doubting of life that he retreats to the ventilation pipes in his block of flats.”
Lindsay Fraser, Glasgow Herald on The Ghost Behind the Wall

“Set a century or so hence, after the government has moved out of London, leaving the city to warring ganglords, this is a terrifying yet utterly compelling story of human cruelty, and our need for love.”
Lyn Gardner, Guardian, on Bloodtide

“This was the best book that I have ever read. After reading the first paragraph I couldn’t put it down. The never-ending twists and unexpected outcomes make this book an excellent read for all teenagers.”
Anna Short in Teen Titles on Bloodtide

“Never has a teenager’s novel raised so many questions about life and the restrictions society places upon us as this one.”
15-year-old guest reviewer in the Sunday Times on Lady: My Life as a Bitch

About the Author

Melvin Burgess

Melvin Burgess was brought up in Sussex and Berkshire. As a child, his reading included The Wind in the Willows and Gerald Durrell's animal stories. He went on to enjoy The Hobbit and Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books. A generally unconfident student, he became interested in writing when he was twelve and an English teacher praised one of his stories - "it was about the first time I'd ever done anything that got an A. I was so pleased I never stopped." After leaving school, Melvin moved to Bristol where he worked on occasional jobs, mainly in the building industry, and was often unemployed. He started writing in his twenties and wrote on and off for the next fifteen years before The Cry of the Wolf was published in 1990. He moved to London in 1983 and began a small business marbling fabrics for the fashion industry. In 1997 his controversial bestseller Junk won the Guardian Children's Fiction Award and the Carnegie Medal. It was also shortlisted for the 1998 Whitbread Children's Book of the Year. Four of his novels have been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal.

Melvin Burgess is regarded as one of the best writers in contemporary children's literature. In 1997, his controversial bestseller Junk won the Guardian Children's Fiction Award and the Carnegie Medal. It was also shortlisted for the 1998 Whitbread Children's Book of the Year. Four of his novels have been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. Melvin lives in Hebden Bridge with his partner.

Photo credit: John Coombes

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Penguin Books Ltd

Publication date

6th March 2003




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