Honest and lively YA book reviews
When I was a kid I had this friend who was convinced she was going to be Hermione Granger. No, she didn't believe she was Hermione Granger in some weird delusional fantasy. She was going after the part in the movie.
I'm an age whereby I grew up alongside Harry Potter and we were around the right age that when the movie rolled around for production it was feasible that this girl would be the correct age to play Hermione. She had been attending acting classes three times a week since before she was born. She took voice classes after school every Friday. She danced, she was well read, she even gradually changed her look until she was embodying the lovably geeky character of Miss Granger, straggly mousy brown hair and all. It was kinda unsettling. This was real dedication in action. There was nothing this kid wanted more than to be in that movie. I'm pretty sure she would have gladly sold her soul for her dream. I'm almost certain she would not have hesitated to kill a man with her bare 12 year old hands to secure herself a role.
This is all fine. But the not so fine part was that she had absolutely no doubt in her mind that it was in the bag, therefore setting herself up for massive disappointment. In her opinion, the fates had already decided it: she would be Hermione Granger. After all, she had spent her whole life preparing for the moment her audition turned out to be a resounding success and the casting agents turned to her and said "Congratulations child, you in!!" Her parents didn't really help. They grasped every chance they got to tell this girl how incredibly gifted she was, how wonderful she was, how heads turned when she walked by, how the angels themselves had delivered her to earth to walk amongst us petty humans and change all our lives by portraying Hermione Granger in a dazzling, Oscar-worthy performance that would win the hearts of the nation, no - win the hearts of the world. So off they popped to the audition of the century. Look - my childhood friend wasn't Emma Watson so the tale ends with this girl returning home rather sheepishly after previously proclaiming she was set to be the Next Big Thing in the movie industry, mumbling "I didn't get it" to all those brave enough to ask how her audition went. It was a shame. But no shocker.
I was reminded of this poor let down kid - who went on to become the most cynical, jaded adult on the planet - by this quote from the sweet, fun Geek Girl by Holly Smale:
"I know a lot about stories and magic - thanks to reading lots of books and also belonging to a forum on the internet - and the most basic rule is that it has to come as a surprise. Nobody hopped into a wardrobe to find Narnia; they hopped in thinking it just a wardrobe. They didn't climb up the Faraway Tree, knowing it was a Faraway Tree; they thought it was just a really big tree. Harry Potter thought he was a normal boy. Mary Poppins was supposed to be a regular nanny.
It's the first and only rule. Magic comes when you're not looking for it."
Harriet, our delightfully irritating main character and narrator certainly wasn't looking for magic when it approached her in the form of a model scout at Birmingham's fashion expo which she was reluctantly attending with her best friend Natalie who is fashion-shoes-modelling-shopping crazy. And so begins Harriet's whirlwind adventure on the road "From geek to chic" as the cover proclaims.
Harriet is a geek. She memorises random facts for larfs. She watches documentaries about the migration of humpbacked whales and she longs to own a triceratops skull. She has zero interest in fashion. "It's just clothes" she likes to tell us. She's sweet, awkward and somewhat socially inept, but she's not instantly likeable. Harriet is kinda irritating. She's embarrassing. She has a bizarre habit of crawling underneath furniture when she's uncertain of how to proceed. Which is a little worrying at 15 years old. However, her inner monologue is genuinely funny and endearing and yeah, she grew on me.
Her friend Nat is cute and honest. Their friendship is sweet but kinda infuriating due to how many misunderstandings they manage to find themselves tripping into. Why don't people just talk to each other before they fly into a rage and begin hurling Thai green soup at the walls?!!
There's nothing realistic about Geek Girl. It's wholly imagined, not based in reality by any stretch of the imagination but it's so cute and fun. A sweet, quick, comfort read when you've got the flu. I really enjoyed Harriet's escapades from being thrown up on, to arriving for her photo-shoot in Moscow in a wheelchair because she can't walk in the heels she has been given to wear. It's all very powder puff and sparkles. There's no real conflict, just the usual crap teenage girls get wound up in knots over - a cute boy, a bully and some parental woes. It's the very definition of fluff. But who doesn't love a bit of fluff?!!
The general message of the book is whatever you're doing, be yourself. I like this. And it's well conveyed. Harriet doesn't lose sight of who she is. She enjoys modelling but she also enjoys homework. She maintains her integrity and stays true to herself through all the ridiculous debacles she finds herself in. Although this is definitely aimed at younger readers (the worst the cursing got was "holy sugar-cookies") I still got a kick out of it, reading it in one sitting and taking my mind off the shit storm that appears to be kicking off in my sinuses. So if you need therapy from your daily struggles read this. It's light-hearted, breezy and some good, clean fun.
Ciao for now my friends!!