Sunday, October 16, 2011

Girl, 15, Charming But Insane

Girl, 15, Charming But Insane by Sue Limb (NY: Delacorte, 2004).

Jess Jordan has a crazy wild imagination that amplifies ordinary situations into hilarious comedies.  She's obsessed with the size of her rear end (massive) and her chest (minuscule) and loves her best friend Flora dearly--except that Flora's so beautiful Jess is sure she looks like a baboon in comparison. She rarely sees her father, but he sends her made-up horoscope text messages every day.  Her mother works as a librarian by day and an activist the rest of the time, so she doesn't even notice that Jess is creeping out to a party one evening with her brassiere padded out with baggies full of minestrone soup.  Disaster ensues when a secret camera catches Jess cleaning up after the inevitable leakage, but fortunately Jess's long-time pal Fred heroically rescues her from certain social leprosy that a wide viewing of the film would cause.  Now Jess just has to figure out how to attract the stunningly good-looking Ben Jones.

Jess is a zany character who makes this novel cover-to-cover laughs.  Admittedly, some of the misunderstandings that drive the plot are contrived and Jess, while bright, manages to ignore clear evidence that Fred likes her while Ben Jones, although handsome, is kind of vapid and not a good match for her. Still, this is an excellent read, highly recommended for fans of Louise Rennison's series about Georgia Nicolson. 

Also recommended is the prequel, entitled Girl, Barely 15, Flirting for England (2008).  Here Jess and her friends are involved in a foreign exchange with a school in France.  Jess's partner is a boy named Edouard who is incredibly short and can barely speak any English. The physical humor in this novel is great as the kids go on a disastrous camping trip in the English countryside and Jess has to borrow clothes from the aunt of one of the kids.

There are also two sequels, both likewise funny and recommended.

 Girl, Nearly 16, Absolute Terror (2005)  

 Girl, Going on 17, Pants on Fire (2006).

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