Book Magazine (July/August 2002)

By Christi Ravneberg

"Youth Movement"

"Most teens can spot a fake a mile away," says editor and publisher Beverly Horowitz. Which is why, she says, teens have taken to writing for themselves--and not just for their school paper or personal Web sites.

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes was only fourteen when her first novel, In the Forests of the Night, was accepted by Delacorte. Since then, the girl some call the next Anne Rice has published three more well-reviewed and peer-approved vampire novels.

Grove Press expects Twelve, an edgy novel by eighteen-year-old Nick McDonell about drugs, sex and violence among wealthy urban prep school students, to be a hit this summer. "The ratio of age to talent is horrifying," gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson blurbs on the book's back cover. "I'm afraid he will do for his generation what I did for mine."

Some teens go the nonfiction route. In 2000, then-nineteen-year-old Ned Vizzini published Teen Angst? Naaah... , a series of humorous essays about teenage life. That same year, Jay Liebowitz, a then-eighteeen-year-old finance whiz, published Wall Street Wizard, a teen's guide to getting rich. And Katherine Tarbox's, a hit among teens last summer, tells her personal story of online sexual victimization.

Tarbox says young writers can offer a fresh view of the world--a view that has until now often been neglected. "I think publishing houses want a voice to be seasoned," she says, "and sometimes overlook that there's a unique value to having a voice be raw."