No wonder teenage years are these fertile ground for novelists. It is but one of those times when change is accelerated as we're pushed to unavoidable, exciting, frightening maturity. Sometimes willing, sometimes not, we become alert to the controlled security of childhood slowly retreating into the shadowy past. I always think of A Midsummer Night's Dream as the gist of adolescence, where excitement and danger reside in the atmosphere but has the potential to evaporate in a puff of breeze.
Things can occur in that cliff-edge moment. "There is something harmful about the boredom of teenage women " It is a thing that I wanted to catch in my new book Crushed. The three girls in the publication are from different backgrounds but the a variety of alchemies of house life, coupled with their emotional trajectories, collide and explode and everything might have become simply a rueful memory of youthful issues turns abruptly toxic and leaves them eternally.
1. The Girls: What I really like about this novel is that it acknowledges how intense and passionate the relationships between teenage girls may be, so these friendships may be the drivers of events as much as any intimate relationship. The publication is modelled on the notorious Charles Manson cult who moved on to murder the celebrity Sharon Tate. Here, 14-year-old Evie is captivated by a group of drifter women, specifically Suzanne. This draws her into a terrifying world.
2. My Brilliant Friend: I relate to a line in a meeting provided by Ferrante into the Paris Review where she explains: "Back in 15 I started to write tales of courageous girls who had been in severe problem" The very first of her Neapolitan novels, My Brilliant Buddy summarizes the flourishing connection between Elena and Lina. The dense setting of location is almost as extreme as the bond between the women whose lives intersect in every twist and turn, in this publication and outside.
3. Dare Me: Abbott is excellent in portraying teenage girls and this novel takes the stakes between them to fresh heights. When trainer Colette French arrives in a new school she skews loyalties and turns out the cheer squad into warriors. That is no anodyne high school story, however, it's a really dark tale that lays bare the power arrangements and plays between teenage women and obsessive love which, within this publication, proves to be toxically dangerous.
4. The Country Girls: O'Brien's young protagonists Cait and Baba burst into a seemingly unoccupied political space, bravely and with terrific heart. In an article for the Irish Times, Eimear McBride said it had been"nothing short of radical", and that"O'Brien gave voice to the adventures of a formerly muzzled generation of Irish girls". It's both professionally, beautifully realised and very different voices of both of these friends from youth, setting out for adventure in the big city, which remain together in all their humour and heartbreaking glory.
5. Little Fires Everywhere: The book starts with a teenager putting fire into a home in Shaker Heights - an advanced, affluent suburb where seemingly well-intentioned liberalism keeps culture ticking quietly forward with shared values. Every time a white household attempt to embrace a Chinese-American baby it rips this neighborhood apart. What's fascinating is how the band of teenagers at the crux of the publication react to those events. Brilliant about the loves, friendships and fantasies of adolescents.
6. Little Women: A bit of a cheat as this isn't strictly a friendship book as the small women of the title are just four sisters who are, nevertheless, mostly heartwarmingly close. Published in 1868 to huge acclaim, the name was supposed to describe that intersection between youth and womanhood we call"teenage". In some ways this is a radical novel, as it is almost an all-woman loved ones and the connections between the girls, and the trajectories of the lives, are described with a fulsome seriousness of purpose.
7. The Catcher in the Rye: Holden Caulfield is a reminder of exactly how challenging teenage relationships could be as he busily goes on wrecking potential friendships and intimate connections with self-sabotaging behavior, by endings self-righteous and highly strung. The book contains a number of the most beautifully comic writing in the English language. However many times I read it, traces like these still leave me laugh out loud: "I think, actually, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it is going to say'Holden Caulfield' onto it, then this year I was born and what year I died, and then under that it'll say 'Fat you' - I am positive, in fact."
8. The Secret History: It's 25 years since I first encountered Tartt's book but I return to it frequently. This strange, humorous novel about a group of pupils with an obsession with the classics which guides them to some murderous travel is just as much about group-think as friendship, and how the one can tip to the other. Like all terrific books it's a feeling of mystery that is combined with a feeling of inevitability, developing as naturally out of style, time and place for a shrub does against the ground.
9. Great Expectations: As soon as they've been introduced with the desperately unhappy Miss Havisham, the friendship between the young Pip and Miss Havisham's chilly protege Estella is a beautiful portrait of a teenage relationship. Confusion and longing contrasts between these, together with Pip's frustrated esteem and Estella's clearly stated mission to split his heart supplying the psychic play.
10. Never Let Me Go: This is only one of the very underrated books I have ever read. The story is narrated, at a brightly unflowery design that manages to be slightly flat yet completely compelling, by 31-year-old Kathy, who's a kind of"carer". She's awaiting her student days in"Hailsham" boarding school, which is equally seemingly understated yet strangely deprived. It's located around a triangle of three buddies - Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, that are moved into"the cottages" at age 16 where the truth of the situation starts horrifically to emerge. Their closeness manages to overturn the tight jealousies of this group. A bold, beautiful yet delicate book.