Becoming a member of the LoveReading4Kids community is free.

No catches, no fine print just unconditional book loving for your children with their favourites saved to their own digital bookshelf.

New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop plus lots lots more...

Find out more


Written by Melvin Burgess

Part of the Puffin Modern Classics Series

Featured Books for Young Adults Recommended Children's eBooks

LoveReading View on Junk

Carnegie winner in 1996.

When it was published in 1996 it created a Storm of Protest - especially from those who didn't bother to read it. The book, however, is credible, honest, realistic, moving and sympathetic - not to drug taking, but to some of the reasons for it and how the young fall into it and then, with luck and a bit of help, get themselves out of it.  Junk not for the faint-hearted for it is utterly compelling and terrifying by turns – from bliss through to complete despair we see all manner of emotions that at times will make you feel utterly drained.  It’s a real roller-coaster and yet it is completely honest and real to today’s world.  Controversy has always gone where this book has gone for it’s hard-hitting approach to the subjects of drink, of drugs and of sex.  Junk is an absolute must-read for any teenager and an essential eye-opener to any parent of a teenager. (14+)

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


Junk Synopsis



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.


Junk Press Reviews

"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


If you loved this, you might like these...

All American Boys
Letters to the Earth Writing to a Planet in Crisis
What's the T?
Bad Habits

All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781783440627
Publication date: 03/04/2014
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780141315935
Publication date: 06/03/2003
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Paperback (b Format)

Book Information

ISBN: 9780141315935
Publication date: 6th March 2003
Author: Melvin Burgess
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Paperback (b Format)
Pagination: 400 pages
Suitable for: YA readers
Recommendations: eBooks

About 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 ...

More About Melvin Burgess

More Books By Melvin Burgess

Cover for The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess
Cover for Sara's Face by Melvin Burgess
Cover for Persist by Melvin Burgess
View All Books By Melvin Burgess

Share this book