Boyfriends, diets, and being cool … growing up is hard to do.
Fiction - YA Chick Lit
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
U.S. Publication Date: 2002
Thirteen-year-old Ellie returns from a dreary holiday in Wales to start grade nine with her two cool best friends, gothic Nadine and stylish Magda. Arriving at school to find out Nadine has a much older boyfriend Ellie feels left out and babyish, so she makes up a boyfriend from her twelve-year-old pen pal Dopey Dan and a dishy boy she sees every day on her walk to school. Ellie feels bad about the lie and wants to come clean, but once Magda ensnares a boyfriend of her own she can’t. On top of living a lie that becomes more inconvenient with time, Ellie deals with fighting parents, an annoying little brother, staving off the real Dan from visiting London and trying to navigate the shark infested waters of teenagehood.
This is a story about the in between time from child to teenager. Growing up gracefully is never easy and Ellie and her friends are a prime example of how it really is. Ellie is not super smart, or beautiful, she is a little chubby and likes to draw, in other words a perfectly average girl making her very relatable. She admires her friends and can only see her flaws when comparing herself to them. But not everything is as peachy as Ellie thinks. Nadine is dating a guy much too old for her who is trying to push her into having sex and Magda is rather wild with no idea on how to reign herself while dragging poor Ellie with her. I would say these are somewhat familiar scenarios for a lot of people. This book is a definite tug-a-war between trying to grow up quickly with the constant awareness you might not be ready for what you think you should be doing.
I found this book cute and humorous. Wilson deals with some very real subjects, such as sex, drugs, alcohol and self-worth in a way that doesn’t feel heavy and the morals aren’t applied too thickly. Something to keep in mind for the American reader is the British have a different culture than us and tend to be less Puritanical so beware.