(The last of the 2010 reads…)
P R Prendergast – Dancing In The Dark
Jessie’s brother James died six months ago – not that it’s made much of a difference to how much they bicker. He still has a tendency to turn up in her room – or in school – and offer his take on what’s going on, including an upcoming dancing competition. Sharply-observed story about bullying, grief, school and family life; well worth checking out.
Anna Carey – The Real Rebecca
Anna Carey’s first book for teens, though hopefully not the last. Rebecca’s mother writes books – mostly romantic fiction with lots of interfering motherly types, the kind that her new English teacher utterly adores – but it’s never been too embarrassing, until her next novel is revealed to be for teenagers – inspired by the ‘antics’ of 14-year-old Rebecca and her older sister Rachel. Now everyone – including the bitchy girls at school, and the cute Paperboy – will think Rebecca really is as dreadfully silly as her fictional counterpoint. Unless, of course, she proves them wrong… This is a fun read which gets some of the genuine craziness of teenage girls (Rebecca’s classmates – she and her friends are mostly normal-ish) spot-on.
Maeve Binchy – Minding Frankie
Binchy manages to be warm without being unrealistic in this tale of family life, featuring some new characters as well as old (Muttie and Lizzie, the twins, Ciara and Frank and the others at the heart clinic, etc) – Noel sorts out his life in order to take care of his baby daughter, Frankie, but it’s a tough road ahead and one with a few inevitable tricky spots. Maeve Binchy fans will enjoy her latest – and have their hearts broken just a teensy bit along the way.
Kody Keplinger – The DUFF
Bianca is the DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – of her group, or so man-whore Wesley tells her. So clearly he’s the last person in the world she should be sleeping with in order to distract herself from what’s going on at home – right? A fun read about contemporary adolescence and sexuality.
Deirdre Sullivan – Prim Improper
Primrose is thirteen, has just started secondary school, and is adjusting to a new life living with her businessy moustachioed father after her mother’s sudden death. This makes it sound like a very tragic grief book, which it isn’t, though there are some bits that will break your heart. Prim is comfortable in her own skin, funny and analytical, and precocious while still being a bratty teenager in many ways. Looking forward to seeing what Deirdre Sullivan writes next.
Sophie Kinsella – the Shopaholic series
Only recently got into the Shopaholic series and devoured the lot of them (six, including the latest, Mini Shopaholic) over the holiday season. Becky Bloomwood is a shopaholic with a heart (and credit card) of gold; the books follow her throughout her mid- to late-twenties with all the wackiness that ensues, including various career dilemmas, relationship traumas, family woes, and… shopping issues. Becky’s often-clueless but always-funny narration is regularly interrupted by letters from banks and other financial organisations, offering up some social critique along with the shoes et al. Very very funny books – Sophie Kinsella does what she does extraordinarily well.