I’m fascinated by teen girls. Maybe because I was one myself in the not so distant past. Or maybe because I think teenage girls are uniquely terrifying. In fact, I think their power knows no bounds. Never underestimate a teen girl. Below are a few of my favorites, both old and new.
1. The Virgin Suicides: Jeffrey Eugenides
This dark and dreamy novel follows the mysterious Lisbon girls as they descend into madness, one by one set against the backdrop of seemingly pleasant suburban America.
2. The Crucible: Arthur Miller
Miller’s Bible of crazy teen girl drama. The girls in Salem, MA, went so mad, they actually got other people killed. A must read.
3. The Bell Jar: Sylvia Plath
Although not quite a teen, Plath’s novel is a must read for the clarity and singular voice of protagonist Esther Greenwood and anyone who wants to understand the many faces of depression.
4. A Member of The Wedding/The Heart is A Lonely Hunter: Carson McCullers
Nobody captures spunky, brave and amazingly tenacious/persistent young women quite like McCullers. Both Frankie and Mick will remain stubbornly in your mind long after you finish reading.
5. The Girls: Emma Cline
Cline’s much talked about debut novel is a page-turner told by a confident author who tracks young Evie’s summer in 1960s California with precision, grace and enormous empathy for the complicated emotional state of teen girls.
6. Dryland: Sara Jaffe
This short and quirky novel is offbeat in the most delightful way. Set in Portland, a young woman attempts to make sense of her budding sexuality, swimming and the complicated nature of family and growing up.
7. In Zanesville: Jo Ann Beard
Although Beard is best known as an essayist, and this novel is aimed for a younger crowd, it had me laughing out loud from the first page on. The novel captures the essence of what its like to be young and feel both powerful and powerless.
Kelsey A. Liebenson-Morse
Assistant Nonfiction Editor