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Posted on 12 Sep 2017

25 Aussie YA Books That Influenced Every '00s Teen

Bringing back the nostalgia, one book at a time.

1. On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Penguin, Harper Collins

Memorable quote: "'What do you want from me' he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.”

Arguably one of Marchetta's strongest tales, On The Jellicoe Road took you on a raw, emotional journey. The back-and-forth momentum of a non-linear timeline was jarring at first, but the significance of Taylor's storyline stayed with you long after you finished the last line.

2. Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden

Pan Macmillan

Memorable quote: “All these words, words like 'evil' and 'vicious', they meant nothing to Nature. Yes, evil was a human invention.”

The first in a seven-book series, Tomorrow, When The War Began was an adrenaline-pumping tale of war, friendship, and survival. While reading, you couldn't help but imagine what it would be like if your own country was invaded, and if you would be strong enough to fight like the characters in the book.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


Memorable quote: “I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

The Book Thief was not an easy book to love. While it taught you some incredibly necessary lessons about the power of words and persuasive rhetoric, it also broke your heart.

4. Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Macmillan Publishers

Memorable quote: “But what’s the good of being true to your religion on the outside, if you don’t change what’s on the inside, where it really counts?”

Does My Head Look Big In This? gave an insight into the experiences, stereotypes, and misconceptions that many young Muslims have to deal with. And even if you didn't share the same religious beliefs as the book's protagonist, she was a teen, just like you, who courageously dared to be different.

5. Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey

McPhee Gribble

Memorable quote: "Rack off, ya moll."

The now-iconic novel, Puberty Blues was most likely your introduction to all things sex, drugs, and alcohol. Adults found it scandalous, but despite it being written in 1979, you were surprised by how relatable the book remained.

6. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Penguin Australia, Orchard Books

Memorable quote: “I'm beginning to realise that things don't turn out the way you want them to. And sometimes, when they don't they can turn out just a little bit better.”

An iconic coming-of-age novel, Looking for Alibrandi dealt with the difficulties of racial differences and what it means to be a teenage girl. You related to Josephine's uncertainty of the future, and admired her developing sense of self as you progressed through the story.

7. The Messenger by Markus Zusak

Pan Macmillan

Memorable quote: "Maybe everyone can live beyond what they're capable of."

Like The Book Thief , the reflective themes of The Messenger spoke to your insecurities of feeling small and insignificant. Through the main character's storyline, you realised how ordinary individuals could become better people by simply taking action and helping those around us.

8. Hating Alison Ashley by Robin Klein

Penguin Books

Memorable quote: “Erica Yurkan, you have an exaggerated sense of your own importance."

Hating Alison Ashley wasn't just a text you had to read for English class. It spoke to the pressures of growing up and having to seem perfect if you wanted to fit in. It also was outrageously funny and kind of sad when you realised how much you related to Erica Yurken (who redeemed herself in the end!).

9. Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody

Penguin Books

Memorable quote: “Sometimes I am afraid for people like you who have to know things. Your kind will dig and hunt and worry at it until one day you will find what is hidden, waiting for you.”

What first drew you to Obernewtyn was hearing that Carmody began writing it during her high school years. And although the story itself may have a few flaws, it inspired you to keep on writing in the hopes that you would be publishing your own novels one day.

10. Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood

Pan Macmillan

Memorable quote: “We look at each other with shy relief. It's the look two odd socks give when they recognise each other in the wild.”

One thing made clear in Six Impossible Things was that survival through life's trickiest situations is possible. And while you didn't always believe this while going through the ups and downs of high school, it was an important lesson to learn.

11. Stolen by Lucy Christopher


Memorable quote: "No one had ever looked at me like that before, with that kind of intensity. It unsettled me, surprised me I guess."

A strange but compelling story, Stolen was a puzzle that kept you thinking long after you had finished it. To this day you're still unsure about the book's ambiguous ending, but you'll never forget the shiver running down your spine as you realised how easily an abduction could happen.

12. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Penguin Books

Memorable quote: “'I was born seventeen years ago,' I tell him. 'Do you think people have noticed that I’m around?'
'I notice when you’re not. Does that count?'”

It was no surprise you related to Saving Francesca. Following a bunch of teenagers on the brink of adulthood, it taught you the importance of friendship and personal strength through Francesca's understanding of her mother's depression.

13. Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Pan Macmillan

Memorable quote: "I hope you feel better today. Please ring me at work if you are dead."

Constructed entirely through letters, notes, and postcards, the epistolary format of Feeling Sorry For Celia allowed it to brilliantly capture the emotional rollercoaster of teenage life and friendships. In particular, you related to how easy it was to both lose and make friends as you grew up and followed different paths.

14. Finding Cassie Crazy by Jaclyn Moriarty

Pan Macmillan

Memorable quote: "You don't even know who I am. I'm not the kind of person who writes in diaries. That's one thing to know about me."

A follow up to Feeling Sorry For Celia, Finding Cassie Crazy employed a similar epistolary-style format through the use of pen-pals. It not only encouraged you to call out boys on their sexism and stereotyping, but to start your own journal entries in an effort to copy the book's unconventional layout.

15. Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe


Memorable quote: “Sometimes the hardest person in the world to talk to is your best friend, because it matters so much.”

Addressing issues such as childhood tragedy, terminal illness, and suicide, Girl Saves Boy was a reminder of two very important things. The first was that life, no matter how bleak, was always worth living. And the second, that you could always face the challenges of life with the support of your friends.

16. Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Pan Macmillan

Memorable quote: “You were right. Real is better. The truth is better. It makes you feel kind of stupid, but it's better.”

Set over one long night, Graffiti Moon skirted the thin line between rebellion and every kid's desire to have a good life and promising future. Told from three different perspectives, it spoke to both your teenage angst and uncertainty in life.

17. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Fremantle Press

Memorable quote: “I don't understand a thing about this world: about people, and why they do the things they do. The more I find out, the more I uncover, the more I know, the less I understand.”

Described as Australia's version of To Kill A Mockingbird, the tale of Jasper Jones was a hard one to swallow at first. Set in a close-minded country town, the book tackled issues of identity, gender, community, and justice, amongst a climate of severe racism. It really opened your eyes to the wider problems going on in both Australia and the world.

18. The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick


Memorable quote: "I’d go off alone, because you can’t trust those who want to break the rules and you certainly can’t trust those who make the rules."

Written entirely in verse, The Simple Gift gave you the chance to rediscover how important the world 'and the people within it are'. And even though it was most likely assigned as an English text reading, it made you appreciate the value of taking time for one another.

19. Came Back To Show You I Could Fly by Robin Klein

Penguin, Text Publishing

Memorable quote: "Well you don't have to be a prized fighter all covered up in battle scars. There's other ways of coming out top - you've just got to outsmart people when they start to hassle you, be one jump ahead."

Showing an alternate view of drug addiction from the eyes of a naive, young boy, Came Back To Show You I Could Fly packed an emotional punch. The compassion and understanding shown by Seymour for Angie's various complications reminded you to never lose hope during your darkest days.

20. Sabriel by Garth Nix

Harper Collins

Memorable quote: “Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?”

The iconic Australian fantasy series, Sabriel was significant in adding to the growing field of fantasy heroines. While reading you couldn't help but idolise Sabriel, a female protagonist that was both strong and determined, yet fragile and emotional.

21. Raw Blue by Kirsty Edgar


Memorable quote: “Shame isn't a quiet grey cloud, shame is a drowning man who claws his way on top of you, scratching and tearing your skin, pushing you under the surface.”

Filled with references of surf culture and Aussie slang, reading Raw Blue felt incredibly authentic. It had this way of getting under your skin, and lingering in your thoughts every time you finished reading a chapter.

22. Checkers by John Marsden

Houghton Mifflin

Memorable quote:"There are some things that once you've lost, you never get back. Innocence is one. Love is another. I guess childhood is a third."

Despite the short length, Checkers was an eerily powerful novel. Although your personal circumstances may not have been as extreme as the main character, you still related to her feelings of powerlessness.

23. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Viking Press

Memorable quote: “Because without our language, we have lost ourselves. Who are we without our words?”

Part of a series called The Lumatere Chronicles, Finnikin of the Rock transported you to a world of fantasy, romance, and mystery. But unlike books in similar genres, Finnikin of the Rock strongly questioned how much of your identity was tied to a cultural language or history.

24. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

Penguin, F. W. Cheshire

Memorable quote: “Everything begins and ends at exactly the right time and place.”

Considered a cult classic, Picnic at Hanging Rock not only freaked you out, but made you question whether the book itself was fact or fiction. The fact that it had an open-ended ending only made you more curious.

25. Girl Stuff: Your Full-on Guide to the Teen Years by Kaz Cooke

Penguin, Viking Press

Memorable quote: "Handy recovery lines for an embarrassing situation: 'Did I just say/do that? I guess I've been possessed by that damn alien again.'"

Even though this was most likely a present given you to by Mum, Girl Stuff became a sort of holy grail for you throughout your teen years. It coached you through puberty, your first period, and a bunch of other things through slightly humourous but accurate advice. Thanks Mum.

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