Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Angus, Thongs & Full Frontal Snogging; Louise Rennison

Published in 1999 by Avon, ATAFFS is the first book in the ongoing Georgia Nicolson series. I bought it on a whim for our daughter. I suppose you could call it “chicklet lit”, the tween and teen version of chick lit. In my house this series has earned its own nickname: book crack. We’ve gone through several copies of each title. They get passed around and around among all of our teens’ friends again and again. This copy, the second one I’ve bought, is tattered and torn, dogeared and soft, scribbled in and taped over. Dragged from pillar to post in backpacks and crammed into little purses. According to my children these books are laughed over and discussed at lunch tables by both boys and girls, although surely they are aimed at girls.

Georgia Nicolson is a fourteen year old English teenager: has pimples, angst, a younger sister, and a crazy cat named Angus. ATAFFS is nominally in an epistolary form, although I find it more accurate to say that it’s written in a stream of consciousness style. Whatever Georgia thinks as she’s writing, she puts down in her journal. Helpfully there’s a glossary to explain the slang- which is, in my house anyway, seemingly the funniest part of the book. Until recently I’d merely played the usual parental role: indulgent pats on the head and more copies of the books for them, but I never read any of them. I’ve plenty of my own books to read, not to mention the usual adult preoccupations.

Finally, this summer, I was looking for something quick, easy, funny, light. Our younger son pushed this book into my hands and browbeat me into reading it. He laughed triumphantly when I told him how funny it is, how true to what I remember my teenage years to be. “We’ve only been bugging you to read this for years, mom.” How very true. Much of the plot is typical teenage angst: tests, parents’ embarrassing behavior, yearning from afar. There are two events that stand out for me. One is that Georgia stood up to the school bully when pressured to go into the village on a shoplifting spree. Two is when Georgia “streaks” down the street very late one night during a sleepover.

On the main I enjoyed ATAFFS quite a bit. If the tv show Gossip Girl is anything to go by, this Georgia book is in a more innocent vein- less snarky, less fueled by lust and envy and jealousy. I’m certain I ought to have read this before I gave it to them, but they seem not to have come to any serious harm with my oversight.

Image found on Harper Collins

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