Feral Youth

Feral Youth

Growing up on a south London estate and excluded from every school that would take her, Alesha is the poster girl for the nation’s ‘feral youth’.

So when a young teacher makes an unexpected reappearance in the fifteen-year-old’s life, opening the door to a world of piano bars, salaries and middle-class house mates, Alesha’s instinct is to pull up her hood and return to the streets she knows.

But fuelled by a need to survive, Alesha soon falls into a cycle of crime, violence and drug-dealing, her one true ally deserting her when she needs him most. While everyone around her is rallying against the authorities in a war of haves and have-nots, Alesha finds herself caught in the crossfire, inextricably linked to the people she is trying to fight against.

Can Alesha see a way out? And as riots sweep the nation, whose side will she take?

A bold, ‘state of the nation’ novel that will appeal to adults and teenagers alike – for fans of Kathryn Stockett, Stephen Kelman and Martin Amis.

01 Amazon paperback 02 Amazon ebook 03 Amazon audio book

“An astonishing achievement that breaks taboos, offering a fresh perspective and revealing a world most of us prefer to pretend does not exist.” — AfterNyne

“A shocking and unsentimental account of generation recession – Courtney raises uncomfortable questions about this abandoned generation of poor, semi-literate, “feral” youth.”Independent on Sunday

“Courtney has an ability to breed empathy for a minority often subjected to negative stereotypes” — Metro

“Feral Youth is as compelling as it is horrifying. It lifts the lid on the lives of marginalised young people that the media demonises and the rest of us prefer to ignore.” — Fiona Bawdon, Guardian / Reading the Riots

“Feral Youth is as life-affirming as Trainspotting and will connect with teenagers and adults alike.” — Lambert Nagle

“Feral Youth gives an insight into life on London’s streets beyond the negative stereotypes, provoking us to address the underlying causes of the riots.” — Patrick Regan OBE, XLP

“Feral Youth gives a unique insight into the very real problems encountered in some of our most deprived areas.” — Gary Trowsdale, Damilola Taylor Trust

“The underlying causes of the riots such as poverty, broken homes and deprivation were largely unexamined. This book changes that. If you want to understand why so many young people took to the streets, read this book.” — Sonya Thomas, Journalist & Researcher, Reading the Riots

“Feral Youth is the story of Alesha – a fifteen year old from Peckham in South London, living under the radar, dodging social services, gang violence and her alcoholic mother. It’s the story of why so many young British kids took the streets, of why they were so angry.” — Triskele Books

“Alesha’s is the voice of a barely literate teenager, reaching out to us from a world we’d prefer to pretend doesn’t exist.” — Catriona Troth

“At last, a new writer of note – reminds me of the greatest of Doris Lessing.” — C. J. Terry

Feral Youth has featured on Channel 4 News, ITV, BBC Radio London, RT TV, Spit It Out TV, London Book Fair and in the Independent on Sunday, the Guardian and various youth publications. Polly Courtney is an active youth and anti-poverty campaigner who has spoken at City Hall, the LSE and the Barbican (see Speaking).


Click here for behind-the-scenes shots from the Feral Youth book trailer:

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Click here to find out about the Feral Youth schools/literacy programme:

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The launch party for Feral Youth was held in London on 26th June 2013. Click here for photos and videos:



Feral Youth is available as a paperback, ebook and audiobook:

01 Amazon paperback 02 Amazon ebook 03 Amazon audio book