logo Practical Dreamers

Crossing boundaries



An annotated book list of teenage novels
on the issues of sexual abuse

Compiler:   William E. Elderton

Compiled for young people,  youth workers,  parents and teachers
by the Community of Women and Men in Church and Society
of the Methodist Church of New Zealand  -
Te Haahi Weteriana o Aotearoa
November,  1998

©   The Community of Women and Men in Church and Society   1998
P.O. Box 5076,  Dunedin,  New Zealand
ISBN  0-473-05571-6


Also available on this site are two other annotated book lists by William Elderton:
The male closet in many a classroom  (on the issues of being gay)
Not just a schoolgirl crush  (on the issues of being lesbian)




Purchasing titles unavailable locally

Short story collections

Novels dealing with sexual abuse





Novels have the ability to reflect our world,  helping us to feel comfortable in it while providing ways of examining aspects of that world we may never experience in real life.   Furthermore,  good fiction can present a framework in which we may more effectively come to terms with those events in our own lives we might find hard to handle;  we can thus begin to feel that we are not alone.   This is especially applicable to teenagers.

Young victims of sexual abuse and harassment can find through appropriate fictional characters in credible situations avenues to assist in their coping with such issues  -  including the strength to confront their situation.

In the area of sexual abuse high quality fiction is required which can provide a mirror to young readers' uncertainties and which might go some way towards proffering positive guidance.

Many teachers,  youth workers and parents are unaware of the growing number of high standard novels being written for the teenage / forms 1 to 5 market on or around the topic of abuse.   What follows is an annotated list of contemporary novels for this group which deal with the topic of sexual abuse.

Together these titles cover the range of issues in the overall term  "sexual abuse"  -  incest,  sexual harassment,  molestation,  sexist slurs and date rape.   These novels do all this unobtrusively in the context of strong,  interesting and enjoyable story lines with highly relevant characters.   As the annotations will show,  in some books the abuse theme is secondary.

It is pleasing to notice the number of excellent New Zealand titles which are appearing on this topic.   This is not an exhaustive list,  as sexual abuse and all forms of such harassment are being increasingly dealt with through modern teenage literature.   This bibliography will be regularly updated on the website,  and as an annually printed edition.

At the conclusion of the annotations there is a bibliography of periodical articles which will provide further information on both the topic and some of the individual authors listed.

The books listed are not all in print,  nor available in every public and school library.   They are,  however,  available through the interloan service provided by your local public library.   The National Library is the other main source for New Zealand schools.

Publishing houses and dates are as on the editions seen by the compiler.   Titles can change with publishers;  and foreign editions may be more readily available than the original UK,  US,  or Australian ones.   Also paperback editions are often issued by other publishers.   (Any good bookshop or library will check this.)   Thus no ISBN numbers are given,  as these change with new editions.



Purchasing titles unavailable locally

High quality and specialized bookshops will order titles still in print from overseas,  where market regulations permit.   In New Zealand and Australia such shops include:
AucklandUniversity Bookshop
Auckland Campus and City Branch
Fax to both:   (09) 309 4278
Unity Books
19 High Street
Fax  (09) 373 4883
WellingtonEpworth Books
75 Taranaki Street
Free Phone   0800 755 355
Victoria University Book Centre
1 Kelburn Parade
Unity Books
119 - 125  Willis Street
Fax  (04) 385 4956
Palmerston NorthBennetts University Book Centre Ltd
Massey Campus
Phone  (06) 354 6020
ChristchurchKate Sheppard Book Shop
145 Manchester Street
Phone (03) 379 0784
Fax  (03) 379 1769
University Bookshop Canterbury
Ilam Campus
Phone  (03) 348 8579
Scorpio Books
79 - 83  Hereford Street
P.O. Box 2376
Phone  (03) 379 2882
Fax  (03) 379 2886
DunedinUniversity Bookshop Otago Ltd
378 Great King Street
Fax  (03) 477 6571
SydneyThe Bookshop Darlinghurst
207 Oxford Street
New South Wales
Phone  (02) 9331 1103
MelbourneHares and Hyenas Bookshops
135 Commercial Road
South Yarra
Phone  (03) 9824 0110
The Little Bookroom
185 Elizabeth Street
Melbourne 3000
Phone  (03) 9670 1612   (03) 9602 1392
Fax  (03) 9670 4440
AdelaideKids Books
435 Portrush Road
Glenside 5065
Phone  (08) 379 7022
Fax  (08) 379 5884
Murphy Sisters Bookshop
240 The Parade
Adelaide 5067
Phone  (08) 332 7508
Fax  (08) 331 3559
Sisters By The Sea
14 Semaphore Road
Adelaide 5019
Phone  (08) 8341 7088
Fax  (08) 8242 4100



1.       Short story collections for teenagers
      containing stories dealing with sexual abuse

Bode, Janet  and  Mack, Stan (editors)  Heartbreak and Roses:  Real True Stories of Troubled Love
New York,  Doubleday/Laurel Leaf,  1996 (1994)

The twelve offerings in this collection arise out of true teenage experience,  and include examples of more than one type of sexual abuse/harassment.   The closeness of the pieces to their youthful authors sharpens their impact.

Chambers,  Aidan (compiler)  Love All
London,  Bodley Head,  1988

Eight short stories for teenagers with the authors including Margaret Mahy,  Jan Mark,  and Aidan Chambers,  whose  The Kissing Game  is a chilling tale about falling in love for the first time and trying out one's self image on another person.   Years after being shamed during a playground kissing game teenage Jamie attempts to befriend Rosie,  who in turn exacts a terrible revenge on him for a group abuse by her boyfriend's gang.

Hathorn,  Libby (compiler)  The Blue Dress
Melbourne,  Mammoth,  1991

Sixteen Australian writers weave different events around a famous Aussie painting of a girl in a blue dress.   Penelope Rowe's  First Dance  ends with a fatal date rape on a beach after a surf club dance.

Hilton,  Nette  Clouded Edges
Sydney,  Angus Robertson,  1997

Five short stories about five different teenagers.   In  Josie  a young and naive girl experiences humiliation and abuse at a local hop while on holiday with her family.

Hodgson,  Miriam  (editor)  In between:  stories about leaving childhood
London,  Methuen,  1994

Several of these eleven fine contemporary stories are quite overpowering.   The Favourite  by Jacqueline Wilson gives a credible account of a girl's infatuation for her High School teacher.   In return she is abused by the adult,  leading to the teenager's resentment.

McFarlane,  Peter  Lovebird:  Stories by Peter McFarlane
Puffin Books (Australia),  1993

Coober,  the first story in this raw collection about often alienated teens,  explores the result of sexual abuse upon a young footy-playing Aussie called Gary.   After being 'touched up' by a truckie from whom he's accepted a lift,  Gary seriously questions his sexual orientation because,  to his utter confusion,  he 'sorta liked' the experience.




2.       Novels dealing with sexual abuse

Bailey,  Anne   Scars
London,  Faber and Faber,  1987

Badly injured in a car accident caused by her drunken and sexually abusive father,  fourteen year old Tanya guiltily traumatises herself into a fantasy world.   Losing her speech,  she retreates from memories of the paternal incest and attempts suicide before finally being drawn from her cocoon.

Bradley,  Tom   The Hunt for Samantha
Auckland,  Harper Collins (NZ) Ltd,  1995 (Tui Books)

Stolen from hospital at birth seventeen years previously,  Samantha is sought both by her twin brother,  Scott,  who's just discovered he's adopted  and the accomplice of the nurse abductor  (who also wants the nurse).   Scott is aided in his race to beat the accomplice by Lauren who's escaping sexual harassment at a foster home.   Inclined to be a B Grade novel.

Branscum,  Robbie   The Girl
London,  Viking Kestrel,  1988 (1986)

Known only as "the girl",  a young teenager trapped in her extended and poor sharecropping family in rural Arkansas dreams of her mother returning to rescue her.   Meanwhile Uncle Les,  with the reputation for liking 'little girls',  persistently sexually molests her.   A depressingly realistic tale of human survival.

Bunn,  Scott   Just Hold On
New York,  Delacorte,  1982

Troubled by an alcoholic father,  seventeen year old Stephen finds real friendship and emotional empathy with Charlotte,  a classmate who has been abused by her father.   Although the novel centres on Stephen and his self-acceptance of being gay,  Charlotte's situation is a vital element in the story line.

Cassidy,  Anne   Talking to Strangers
London,  Scholastic,  1994 (Adlib)

Memories of being 'fondled' by an abusive shopkeeper at ten return for Maggie five years later when local ten year old Caroline disappears.   Helped by two school peers,  Amy and John,  she tries to build a case against her 'strange' neighbour.   John has a scrambled personality  -  although seemingly an immature teenager,  his kisses,  which are oddly adult,  stir Maggie's emotions.   Finally John is revealed as Caroline's sexual killer,  his personality problems the result of paternal sexual interference.   And the strange neighbour?   The abduction of his wee daughter years before had caused him a mental breakdown.   A fast-paced novel drawing in the myriad consequences of youthful sexual abuse.

Chick,  Sandra   Push Me,  Pull Me
London,  Womens Press,  1987

A moving tale of how fourteen year old Cathy is left to cope with the traumatic after-effects of a rape by her mum's de facto.   Until she can work through the issues,  pain,  guilt and anger are the norm for Cathy.

Childress,  Alice   These Other People
New York,  Putnam,  c 1989

Bigotry surfaces at Minitown High when a popular male teacher sexually assaults a delinquent fifteen year old female pupil with only a black boy and a gay student teacher witnessing the incident.

Clark,  Judith   The Lost Day
Penguin Books (Australia),  1997

Upon leaving a Melbourne night club early on Sunday morning,  nineteen year old Vinny is abducted,  drugged and,  from his blurred memories,  indecently assaulted.   Coming to his senses in a suburban train he discovers he has lost a whole day.   That missing period is systematically tabulated by Vinny's family and friends in a tightly framed plot which illustrates the plight of other 'lost' teens.   How Vinny was conned by his abductor is a valid lesson.

Clements,  Bruce   Tom loves Anna loves Tom
New York,  Farrar, Straus and Giroux,  1990

Tom and Anna fall in love over two brief weeks while Anna visits her Aunt in Tom's hometown.   Clements encapsulates the tension the passing of time inflicts on the two sixteen year olds.   A hovering cloud over the romance is Walter,  a trusted family friend of Anna's older,  but dead,  brother Bobby.   Walter sexually forced himself onto Anna at Bobby's funeral and she looks to Tom for protection.

Coburn,  Ann   The Domino Effect
London,  Red Fox,  1996 (1994)

This chronicles the complex events which dominate Rowan's life and relationships once Eleanor,  her mother,  is sexually assaulted at work.   A unique approach in this list.

Cooney,  Caroline B   Both Sides of Time
New York,  Delacorte,  1995

All seventeen year old Anne wanted in 1995 was a sumer of romance with her decidedly unromantic boyfriend.   What she gets is a time trip back to 1895,  a fine Victorian mansion,  a passionate friendship with a young Yankee aristocrat  and involvement in a murder mystery.   Anne begins to appreciate that,  with the accepted sexual abuse and harassment of servants by macho male masters,  society's attitudes to women have not changed in many respects over the past century.   An enjoyable and convincing time travel novel.

Corrin,  Ruth   Secrets
Auckland,  Oxford,  1990

A superbly crafted novel set on New Zealand's Tasman coast with two main plot threads.   While trying to winkle from Jenny,  her Bohemian-style solo mum,  who her dad is/was,  teenager Liz befriends Marion,  the ostracised daughter of the local 'magnate'.   Slowly Marion gains the confidence to reveal to Liz a history of paternal sexual interference.   Liz's secure,  if rather topsy-turvy domestic life is contrasted to Marion's,  where an earlier sibling's death changed her parents' marriage for ever.   The ethical and psychological change in Marion's mother is realistic.

Crutcher,  Chris   Chinese Handcuffs
London,  Pan Horizons,  1991 (1989)

Triathlon competing is complicated for teenager Dillon by his whole family being in dysfunctional mode,  including his older brother having blown his brains out in Dillon's presence.   Then his girl friend,  Jennifer,  tells him about the continually debilitating sexual molestation she suffers  -  first from her father and now from her malevolent step-father.

De Clements,  Barthe   I Never Asked You to Understand Me
New York,  Scholastic,  1987 (1986)

Attending an alternative school for problem pupils,  Dianna pals up with Stacy who is a victim of parental sexual abuse.   Though the novel focuses on Dianna's issues.  the portrayal of Stacy and her father is a sharp one.

Deuker,  Carl   Painting the Black
Boston,  Houghton Mifflin Co.,  1997

In his final year at Senior High School Ryan finally overcomes past injuries and stars in the school's baseball team.   Josh,  a new friend,  poses an integrity test when Ryan observes him taking part in a cruel act of sexual harassment against a femal classmate.   A most readable novel.   Ryan's family life,  his own determined self motivation and earlier obsessive need for Josh's friendship,  plus the sexist,  macho culture of America's high school baseball and grid iron fraternity,  these are all vividly captured.

Glenn,  Mel   Who Killed Mr Chippendale?   A Mystery in Poems
New York,  Lodestar Books / Dutton,  1990

In free-form poetry we try to unravel a teacher's murder.   We hear from various pupils,  ex pupils and colleagues of the victim,  including a student who claims she had an affair with him.   Everyone's attitudes are realistically depicted.

Grant,  Cynthia D   Uncle Vampire
London Mammoth,  1997 (1993)

Uncle Vampire catapults us into the mangled emotional existence of sixteen year old Carolyn.   Because the reality of her uncle's sustained sexual abuse is too horrendous to handle,  Carolyn fantasises that he is a vampire who takes her blood and that of an imaginary twin sister.   We follow events from Carolyn's confused and confusing reflections and it is only in the final pages that the full impact is felt.

Hall,  Lynn   The Giver
New York,  Scribner's Sons,  1985

Fifteen year old Mary's growing emotional attraction to her teacher,  James Flichet,  is reciprocated by the forty five year old man.   However,  this is not a novel of misconduct;  rather James,  despite his poignant need for affection,  respects the essential boundaries twixt pupil and educator.   What James does give Mary is a vital sense of her own self worth which helps her overcome a desperate need to love and be valued.   A masterly book which authenticates the mutual urges within individuals which can lead to the boundaries between generations being disastrously broken.

Hall,  Sylvia   When You Can't Say 'No'
Scholastic Children's Books,  1994  (Adlib)

Here is unfolded the series of events occurring for a teenager after she has found the courage to confront parental sexual abuse.   Lisa's only stable aspect is her boyfriend,  Mike,  who loves her despite her self guilt.   Attempted suicide,  hospitalisation,  self doubt and humiliation,  plus a driving need to be whole,  are Lisa's lot.   A graphic novel.

Harnett,  Sonya   Sleeping Dogs
Penguin Books Australia,  1997 (1995)

A lonely travelling artist stops at a caravan park on an isolated Aussie farm to discover the family from Hell.   The Willows household is Hitchcockian in its twisted diversity.   Ruled by a brutal and physically abusive dad,  the adult children remain trapped in child-like amber,  their mature dreams of normal careers beyond achievement.   The artist lures into the daylight at least one case of incest between the siblings,  an exposure which wreaks havoc on the farm menage.   A gripping tale.

Holland,  Isabelle   The Man Without a Face
New York,  Dell,  1972

Fourteen year old Charles is from a dysfunctional family and develops a close emotional bond to the disfigured Justin  -  an adult loner who successfully coaches Charles for an entrance exam.   When events reach a crisis at home,  Charles and the gay Justin share a brief sexual encounter.   The incident temporarily affects Charles in a negative way until he appreciates that he is not gay.   Justin has allowed boundaries to be crossed.   The incident,  and Justin's gayness,  are omitted from the recent film of the book.

Howard,  Ellen   Gillyflower

Gilly is being sexually molested by her father while her mum is at work.   Although she hates this attention,  it is the realisation gained from a new friend that this is not right which encourages Gilly to tell her mother.   A novel for those Standard 3/4 upwards.

Irwin,  Hadley   A Girl Like Abbey
Penguin,  1988 (1985)

A valued,  if slow paced,  novel in which we follow the developing friendship between Abbey and Crisp,  often stopping off during their years in between thirteen and eighteen to catch certain pivotal incidents.   The astute reader early recognises the pointers which the maturing Crisp later appreciates when he learns about Abbey's dad and his sexual activities against her.   Crisp's perceptive love and accompanying frustration is heightened by having to accept his own inability to do more than just wait supportively.   There are no immediate  'happy ever afters'  for the pair,  but Abbey is seemingly successfully completing her counselling,  and with Crisp's readiness to hold back on sexually expressing their love the future appears promising.   Published in America as  Abbey My Love.

Kesselman,  Wendy   Flick
New York,  Harper & Row,  1983

Flick,  the product of a wealthy if mixed up home,  uses charm to manipulate her peers at a private American boarding school.   Bi-sexual,  she enters into a physical relationship with a girl two years her junior.   Although the author is inclined to be over the top at times,  Flick's account of sexual exploitation by her stepfather is convincingly real.

Klein,  Norma   Snapshots
New York,  Dial Dutton,  1984

A cheery tale in which Marc gains sober insights into society's attitude to child pornography when his innocent photos of his eight year old sister raise a storm.   Told with Klein's innate but sympathetic humour.

Lanagan,  Margo   Touching Earth Lightly
Allen & Unwin (Australia),  1996  (Little Ark Books)

Cloe is eighteen when she finds the body of Janey,  her best friend,  gang raped and murdered,  lying in a car wrecker's yard.   This compelling Australian novel reveals both Janey's life of family incest and the stabilising influence Cloe and her family provided.   Slowly Cloe sifts through the issues of Janey's life and death with the aid of positive supporting friends.

Lasenby,  Jack   The Lake
Auckland,  Oxford University Press,  1987

In this,  his first novel,  Lasenby,  in a graphic and minute way draws on his own extensive outdoor experience to introduce us to Ruth,  surely the prototypal good keen kiwi girl.   Sexually assaulted by her stepfather at the onset of puberty,  Ruth escapes to the bush,  the lore of which she absorbed well from her dad.

Lawson,  Julie   Danger Game
Little Brown,  1996

Chelsea is a sixteen year old Canadian who is being subjected to continuing sexual interference from her mother's fiancé and pyromania is one reaction Chelsea has to the abuse.   She is encouraged to confront her problems during a visit to cousins.   A taut novel.

Levy,  Marilyn   Run For Your Life
Houghton,  1996

A group of teenage girls from an American inner city project help break the effect of their environment through a female track team.   Natonia,  one of the team,  has been sexually molested by her uncle,  but the main character is Kisha whose mother struggles to go to work against the wishes of a physically abusive,  unemployed husband.

Limb,  Sue   Big Trouble
London,  Orchard Books,  1990

Janie has many emotional hurdles to overcome  -  including the sexual attentions of her mother's live-in boyfriend.   With the encouragement of friends,  the teenager is confident enough to share her problems with a supportive mum.

Logan,  Carolyn   River Child
Freemantle Arts Centre Press,  1995

It is 1829 and,  alone in early Western Australia,  sixteen year old Sarah must find ways to support herself and younger half brother.   Her story is retold from several perspectives  -  including Sarah herself,  her letters,  her employers,  and the Aborigines who,  in befriending her,  draw Sarah into the Dream Time of their existence.   At the root of Sarah's struggle is the vicious sexual assault inflicted on her by a female care-giver earlier on in England.   The realism of  River Child  engenders strong emotions in the reader.

MacLean,  John   Mac
London,  Pan Horizons,  1987

While being physically examined,  fourteen year old Mac is indecently assaulted by the male doctor.   What actually happens is never stated but the effects on the boy are vividly tabulated.   Mac experiences denial,  guilt,  confusion as to sexual orientation,  a sense of inferiority and a general turbulence in his personality and relationships.   Finally,  an empathetic counsellor breaks through Mac's barriers.   A skilful novel.

McNaughton,  Iona   Summer of Shadows
Scholastic New Zealand,  1997

For thirteen year old Lizzie this was THE summer;  the time she experienced her first period,  had her beloved horse Shadow put down,  commenced High School,  helped her best friend maimed in a farming accident,  and gained the courage to stop her older,  adopted,  brother's sexual harassment.   A confident novel by a Kiwi writer.

Marshall,  Heather   What Happened that Night
Cape Catley (New Zealand),  1995

While visiting Phoebe,  her New Zealand grandmother,  sixteen year old Abigail learns about her life in a Lower Hutt orphanage in the late 1930s.   Abuse in all its forms  -  physical,  emotional,  spiritual and sexual  -  was employed by a powerful matron as she held her charges by terror.   Marshall has a very matter-of-fact style.

Masters,  Anthony   Bullies Don't Hurt
Viking/Puffin,  1997

Ali is the leader of a high school terror group and the cretinish bullying of an inexperienced teacher is typical of their sophisticated finesse.   The novel unfolds to show Ali's growing understanding that at the base of his thuggish actions lie the sexual attentions of his step-father.   With this self awareness comes change in all levels of Ali's life.

Mazer,  Norma Fox   Out of Control
Morrow,  1993

Mazer writes a searching and complex account of the reactions to a brief harassing encounter Rollo inflicts on Valerie in Junior High School.   Both teenagers share in the recounting of events and the various attitudes among the wider community are also included.

Miklowitz,  Gloria D   Past forgiving
New York,  Simon & Schuster,  1995

Fifteen year old Alex is blind to both her eighteen year old boyfriend Cliff's possessive nature and the danger signs in his dysfunctional family.   Alex's besottedness means she can forgive Cliff when he slaps her,  but not,  finally,  his date rape.

Miklowitz,  Gloria D   Secrets Not Meant to be Kept
London,  Lions Tracks (Collins),  1989 (1987)

Adri has some strange memories lying in the corners of her mind.   Younger sister Becky's experiences at Adri's old play school,  coupled with her own intensifying affair with a special boyfriend,  bring the past back to Adri and help her rescue Becky and her peers from a dangerous abusive situation.

Morgan,  Lynda   Megan's Secret
Auckland,  Papers Inc.

Rather inclined to take a clinical,  case-book approach,  this New Zealand novel tells of young Megan reporting her father's sexual abuse along with the resulting police and departmental involvements as they were in 1987.   After several very stressful months,  Megan begins to feel she is on the way to a normal life again.

Mullins,  Hillary   The Cat Came Back
Viard Press,  1993

Stephanie  (or 'Stevie' to her friends)  at seventeen is in the third year of a sexual relationship with a male teacher at her private American boarding school.   It takes the acceptance of her growing lesbian relationship with a peer to show Stephanie that the teacher's approach has been abusive.   An all round excellent novel.

Nathanson,  Laura   The Trouble with Wednesdays
New York,  Pacer Books,  1986

Wednesdays are when,  on having her braces checked,  eleven year old Becky is sexually molested by her dentist.   Her parents,  related to the perpetrator,  seem unable to hear her complaints.   Becky's situation is,  however,  appreciated by a perceptive teacher.   While aimed at Standard 3 - Form 1 level,  this novel effectively captures the issues involved.

Noonan,  Michael   McKenzie's Boots
University of Queensland Press,  1987

Although this masterful novel is about a teenager's maturing within the framework of a brutal jungle war,  a subsidiary character throughout is 'Prick Head' Hillyard,  a former Australian teacher whose predatorial homosexual activities at a Sydney High School cause his sudden resignation.

O'Brien,  John   Impact Zone
Hodder Headline (Australia),  1995  (Starlight)

A keen Aussie surfer,  young Justin teams up on the local beach with a co-enthusiast called Brad.   Justin soon finds that Brad inhabits a cave above high tide as a refuge from sadistic home violence and hinted sexual abuse.   Justin's concern is genuine but his conservation-orientated parents appear overdrawn.   A highly readable book for those from Standard 3/4 upwards who are into surfing action.

Owen,  Gareth   The Man With Eyes Like Windows
London,  Collins,  1987

Teenager Louie undertakes a picaresque journey to find his drifting and dreamy father.   En route he has a scary hitch-hiking incident when a somewhat odious man makes sexual advances.   Louie escapes unharmed and without any ill effects.

Pausacker,  Jenny   Getting Somewhere

Dolly moves through her final high school year:  a time when she appreciates the individual,  is apart from her twin sister,  finds a steady boyfriend,  and realises her potential in maths.   Sexual harassment is a constant fact of life for this feisty Aussie teenager with real charm.   There are yahoos yelling obscenities from cars at traffic lights and the shopkeeper who will greasily caress her hand if she's not quick with the change.   Such everyday,  almost unnoticed,  annoyances are mused on by Dolly.

Pennebaker,  Ruth   Don't Think Twice
New York,  Holt,  1996

It is 1967 and while in a Texan home for pregnant teenagers Anne works through her situation.   Others are in the same boat,  including Cheri,  seduced by her minister,  and Gracie who was raped by her father.   A sober novel about a time when unwed mothers were a family's greatest shame.   Anne comes to a greater understanding of herself,  her home and her fellow inmates before giving her baby girl up for adoption.

Pluss,  Nicole   Beach Baby
Penguin Australia,  1997

While on a beach holiday with her sister and solo dad,  sixteen year old Melissa is raped one summer's eve when she sneaks a visit to a local pub.   The event and its subsequent trauma shatters her childhood and alters all her relationships.

Pope,  James   Spin the Bottle
Puffin,  1997

Despite being a disruptive troublemaker in school,  fifteen year old Zoe hides the secret of paternal incest against herself and an older sister.   Through the touching bond she establishes through email with Sally,  her form teacher,  the teen is able to confront the molestation.   Zoe and her family rise out of the printed records of the computer correspondence as highly credible individuals.

Roth,  David   The Girl in the Grass
New York,  Beaufort Books Inc.,  1982

At seventeen years of age,  Tom tries to locate his sister Sylvia whose existence had previously been unknown to him.   He discovers that Sylvia was the victim of sexual abuse from their father and bears the physical and emotional scars.

Roxborogh,  Tania   If I Could Tell You ...
Auckland,  Harper (NZ),  1997

At sixteen,  Kelly finds that her dead mother's high school diaries reveal a saga of family sexual abuse.   Learning how her mum survived to reach a state of tranquillity helps Kelly as she wrestles with the usual teenage issues.   A highly credible New Zealand novel.

Simons,  Wendy   Harper's Mother
London,  Pan Horizons,  1986 (1979)

For all her thirteen years Harper has moved with Kitty,  her solo mother,  from one housekeeping job to another.   Sometimes the positions are with single men,  one of whom,  Thorn,  begins to press his attentions on Harper.   The incident comes at the novel's beginning and seems to serve only to precipitate a further move for Harper and Kitty.   Still,  an ably written New Zealand story.

Sussex,  Lucy   Black Ice
Hodder Childrens Books (Australia),  1997

Upon her family moving to a new home,  Syb is ejected onto a big dipper of esoteric experiences and quirky individuals.   Included is Jon-ged who in a former life worked his own brand of brutal ethnic cleansing on the house's site and in this world is a rather nasty paedophilic photographer.   And there is Hille,  the housekeeper-cum-medium who 'sees' several levels of existence at each turn.   All this other cyberspacial commotion is boosted by the latest internet link-ups.   Heady enough mixtures for characters and readers alike but do not be lulled  -  the camera happy man's abusive activities are central frame in this invigorating and unique Aussie teenage novel.

Tamar,  Erika   Fair Game
New York,  Harcourt Brace & Co.,  1997

This novel tabulates the bitterly disputed gang rape of Cara Snowden and its sequels as viewed by three of the teens intimately involved  -  including the victim herself and the girl friend of one of the perpetrators.   Cara is developmentally challenged,  and naively desperate to be liked and included.   Although a peer of the senior high school boys accused she is,  in the words of Laura Jean the girl friend,  'like a five year old'.   Universally trusting Cara innocently accepts the youth's perverted attentions because she views them as friends.   Righteous macho male stereotypes,  protection by influential people,  and various other social attitudes all interweave in this compelling,  if heartrending saga.   That the event is rape is obvious to the reader,  even later to Laura Jean,  but not to the youths concerned or their families and peers.   The intercourse scenes themselves are realistically reported.

Taylor,  William   'Possum' Perkins
Ashton Scholastic (New Zealand),  1987

The butt of the classroom jokes,  Rosie Perkins lives with an alcoholically depressed mother and a possessive father to whom she is his 'little princess'  -  a term she hates.   A platonic relationship develops between Rosie and Michael,  a high school peer who,  along with his family,  befriends her.   Maltreated by her dad physically,  Rosie also resents his close cuddling but nothing further is hinted at.   Along with the reader,  however,  Michael's mother is suspicious.   A worthwhile New Zealand book.

Voigt,  Cynthia   When She Hollers
London,  Lion Tracks,  1994

A stark novel which focuses on a knife to recount the day when eighteen year old Tish finally 'loses it' after a life of constant sexual molestation from her step-father.   Seizing on the maxim that the truth sets one free she desperately,  if guiltily,  wrestles with the conflict between silence and revelation.   Ultimately,  driven to the edge of endurance,  Tish acts.

Walker,  Jenni   Airman Surfs the Net
Auckland,  Harper Collins (NZ) Ltd.,  1995 (Tui)

While meeting on the Net,  two New Zealand teenagers catch a man who is using the system to sexually harass and then attack girls who are home alone.

Walker,  Sarah   The Year of Freaking Out
Pan MacMillan Australia,  1997

Kim is a seventeen year old Sydney school girl living,  in a delightfully matter-of-fact way,  with the realisation that she is probably a lesbian.   A secondary concern for this breezy teen is her Uncle Bob's ongoing sexual interference with her.   The discovery that he has begun inflicting his own daughter with his attentions finally jolts Kim to confide in her mother from whom she receives supportive help.   Walker has an acute ear for contemporary Aussie teenage dialogue and this is a robust,  highly readable story.

Woodson,  Jacqueline   I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This
New York,  Delacorte/Laurel Leaf,  1995 (1994)

The twelve year old daughter of a black university professor,  Marie is attracted to Lena,  a poor white girl in a predominantly black high school.   Drawn together by the mutual circumstances of being motherless,  the two share family secrets.   From Lena an almost disbelieving Marie learns about a continuing family incest which eventually causes Lena to run away.   This is a brief,  exceptional and positive novel in which the loving and safe relationship between Marie and her dad is a vital ingredient.



3.     Appendix  -  bibliography

Articles and books which will help put a framework around the bibliography and provide further information on the topic and some individual authors.

I)     Some General Issues in the Writing of Young Adult Fiction

Aronson,  Marc  "The Y.A. novel is dead"  and other fairly stupid tales
School Library Journal,  January 1995  p 36, 37
The value of Young Adult novels in articulating relevant social issues.
Caywood,  Carolyn  Risky Business
School Library Journal,  May 1995  p44
Books can battle peer pressure and help teens avoid risks.
Donelson, K.C.  and  Nilsen, A   Literature for today's young adults
Scott Foresman & Co,  1980
Note pages 407-413  Sex,  because it's there
Egoff,  Sheila A.   Thursday's Child:  Trends and Patterns in Contemporary Children's Literature
Chicago,  American Library Assoc,  1981
Note pages 66-79  The problem novel
Goforth,  Frances  and  West,  William W.  
How should teachers handle the literature students are reading?
Language Arts Vol 52  No 8  Nov/Dec  1975  p1135-1140
Grant,  Cynthia  Tales from a Y.A. author:  Slightly uneasy
School Library Journal,  October 1995  p48-50
Mazer,  Norma Fox  Silent censorship
School Library Journal,  August 1996  p42  (Make your point)
Fearing controversy,  a school abruptly cancelled a writer's visit.
Sheahan-Bright,  Robyn  How real is "too real"?
Viewpoint Vol 5;  No.3  Spring 1997,  p5-6
Taylor,  Anne   What shall we tell the children?
Changing social attitudes as reflected in literature for young readers.
Emergency Librarian  Jan/Feb 1988.   p9-15
Tucker,  Nicholas   Children's books and unwanted pregnancies
Books for Keeps  No 78  Jan 1993  p4-5
Ulbrich,  Ingrid   Don't read this!
School Library Journal  January 1996,  p46
Colorado teens learn about censorship
Yates,  Jessica   Controversial teenage fiction
School Librarian Vol 32  No 3  Sept 1984  p206-213

II)     The Issue of Sexual Abuse

Blyth, Eric  and  Milner, Judith   Keeping children safe:  can books help to protect children from sexual abuse?
Books for Keeps No.45  June 1987  p8-9
Polese, Carolyn   Sexual abuse:  its place in children's fiction
School Library Journal  August 1989  p86-87

III)     Articles by or about authors of novels handling
the sexual abuse theme

Harding, Sally
The Tulip Touch by Anne Fine
Viewpoint:  Books for Young Adults  Volume 5 number 3  Spring 1997  p23-24    [Anne Fine]
Woodson, Jacqueline
A sign of having been here
Horn Book  November/December 1995  p710-715 



>>>   Home Page


>>>   Site Index