This book is absolutely brilliant! I laughed until I cried reading the "diary" of fourteen year-old Georgia. While it officially aimed at teens, adults should also make sure that they read it too.
Georgia goes through the same worries as many girls: her looks, her friends, bullies, her alarmingly growing bazoomas, boys, parents, and school. There's also her mad cat Angus, who terrorizes the neighbor's small dog, and her todler sister Libby, who makes a mess on everything she touches. Her diary entries are frequent, sometimes one a minute, and the book is a very quick read. The longer entries have plenty of reported dialog, and really the diary is more like a report of internal thought rather than a what a girl would actually write in a diary. Georgia has a quick tougue and she is fabulously rude to her parents. (Parents will dread their children using Georgia as a role model as much as they dread Bart Simpson.)
What I like most about Georgia is her use of language, which is so very British. She uses lots of slang and distinctive expressions (prat, having the painters in, rucksack), and there's a glossary at the end in this American edition although maybe I expect that some of the fun will be taken out of the book if you have keep having to refer to the back of the book in order to work out what is going on. She also uses some French words for effect, but you can probably work out what they mean.
I am tempted to make a generalization about the difference between British and US culture: there's such a pleasure and inventiveness in the use of language in Britain that has little match in contemporary north American culture, except possibly in young African-American "urban" life. It's not so much in the high culture of serious novels and Merchant-Ivory movies, but rather in popular newspapers, sit-coms, game-shows, radio, and youth magazines. Maybe I'm wrong about that, although I don't think so. Louise Rennison however certainly has a great skill in being playful with language, through being juvenile.
Here's a typical paragraph:
The most cringe-making thing in the Universe of Cringe-making Things happened this afternoon in religious education. It was with Miss Wilson, who is not what you might call normal (still, who would be--teaching RE?). She is a very unfortunate person, with ginger hair in a sad bob, her tights are always wrinkley, plus she wears tragic cardigans, ususally done up the wrong way. She is not blessed in the looks department, but worse than this, she has not got a personality--at all--none.
You'll have to read the book to find out what cringe-making thing happened in RE, but I can assure you it's pretty funny. My point though it that this writing has great energy and feeling. Of course the humor is pretty juvenile, with lots of emphasis on looking stupid, smells, messes, and embarrassing moments. But that's the stuff of most humor, from Shakespeare to There's Something About Mary. The writing in Angus... may look unsophisticated, but if it were easy to do, then there'd be many more best-selling books in this genre than there are. As it is, it's largely a British genre; I can think of Adrian Mole, and Bridget Jones.
Even with the glossary, some of the humor and cultural references may not translate well across the Atlantic, but there's plenty of reason (see the Amazon readers' comments) to think that most people will get most of it. The picture it gives of early adolescence will be both familiar, slightly alarming, but mostly reassuring to readers. The mood swings, inconsiderateness, bizarre ideas, crushes, worries and depression are all there. Angus reminds both teenagers and parents that the roller-coaster is not only normal, but laughing at it can help put apparent crises in perspective. For those of you who are neither teenagers nor parents of teenagers, a good laugh can really cheer you up, although it may leave you anxious to find out what happens next.
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