On occasion you can find three books that appear to be different, but mesh together in a way you never imagined.
My Mad Fat Teenage Diary by Rae Earl
Anyone who has gone through school feeling out of place, ugly, chubby, disliked, anxious, different and anything other than ‘normal’ will enjoy this My Mad Fat Teenage Diary. Ignore the gordy cover, you’ll love Rae, she is spectacular. She encompasses every fear I had as a teenager, every self-doubt; Rae has a personality only a bitch could hate, she is hilariously defensive, but you just need to give her a chance. Set in 1989, Rae’s diary traverses a year in life as she grapples with school, friends, boys and her weight.
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
When I was young Sunday’s were the worst day of the week; religion was a foreign concept and it was as if I starred in The Demon Headmaster, solely resistant to the hypnosis. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit resonated with me in a way the other two books here did not, religion was a baffling element of my youth that I find still affects me today. Jeanette is raised up in a strict religious community – verging on cult – bred to be a missionary. She is a believer and struggles as her community ostracised her for her sexuality, finally rejecting them as (quite rightly) she refuses to hide or change who she is. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a semi-autobiographical novel, based on events in Winterson’s own life.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
It all began with a seat on the bus. Eleanor and Park was more enjoyable that I ever expected, to the point where I devoured the rest of Rowell’s novels in quick succession. It’s an unconventional romance between two very different teens, so unconventional a novel pairing that it felt incredibly realistic. Eleanor has moved back in with her beaten mother, siblings and abusive stepfather; Park lives a stable existence with his complicated, but supporting parents. As events in Eleanor’s life escalate, Eleanor and Park become necessary features in each other’s lives. Oh and it’s set in the 80s, that alone makes it worth reading.