First of all, credit where credit is due, thank you to Jodie Lee for recommending this.
In one sense this is a stereotypical teen novel. Geek girl in posh school who has a intellectual best friend (Holdo after Holden in Catcher in the Rye for goodness sake!) and in love with her English teacher who teaches them Larkin (the sweary one) writes really bad prose about suicide and self harms. Then she decides that she is going to go all ‘Mean Girl’, have an amazing makeover (who knew she was so pretty?) and infiltrate the popular gang. She realises that they are maybe not as mean as she thought and that they are struggling with their own set of problems. All the time that she is making her life more interesting she is blogging about it.
There is some amazing writing in this book. The literary references are also pretty good; the aforementioned Larkin, some Alan Bennett, Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird; the main character is also reading Ulysses; and enjoying it! The author is spot on with some of her character descriptions: Hugo the rugger bugger, Jassmine the beautiful girl that they all want to be, Gemma the nasty one who isn’t too pretty so takes it out on everyone else. the only one I wasn’t really comfortable with was Bree herself. I felt she was a little one dimensional. I liked her, but not enough. Also, I have worked in a girls school, went to a girls school and am a girl and I have never met anyone called Bree or Jassmine! They are really American names which I didn’t associate with rich British kids. to the point where I thought the book was set in America for the first few chapters! Mr Fellowes also bothered me because he never is held accountable for what happens. I won’t spoil it for you but I wish the author had explored that a bit more.
But, having said all that, I liked it. she is right, I left school twenty years ago and I still remember the names of all the girls who I wanted to be friends with. the horrible ones in my class who spent their time being horrible about everyone else to cover up their own insecurities. The saddest part of all is that what happens at school can affect your whole life and these horrible people don’t get that. You meet all sorts of people on your journey through life and you have to have coping strategies in place for when you do, so I guess that’s what school prepares you for. And the educational stuff as well I suppose!
Quote of the book: ‘He is like an air bubble in a coffin’ – see what I mean? Amazing prose!
PS. Go and have a look at the ugly Duchess – she sure is ugly! Or a man!