Bella Fisher is back – and is cool, calm and collected as ever. So: NOT EVEN REMOTELY. Her fledgling relationship with Hot Adam seems to have stalled mid-flight (he isn’t really speaking to her), her big sister Jo has gone off to university leaving Bella to deal with ditzy Mum on her own, something is up with her best-friend-dynamic with Tegan and Rachel and horror of horrors, horrendous ex-boyfriend Luke has an ACTUAL MODEL as his new girlfriend. Mum opens up a doggy ice cream parlour – Give a Dog a Cone – which Bella is forced to help out at on Saturdays. Yes, dressed up as a dog. For some light relief she enters a radio competition to secure a performance from hot band of the moment The Helicans at her school – but another contestant begins turning into her sabotaging nemesis. Throw in a suspicious new lodger and the world’s most chaotic dog agility course and you’ve got another truly hilarious, truly relatable and truly madly awkward story!
I like Bella. She fills the geeky hole left by the ending of Holly Smale’s Harriet Manners. Bella is the geek that goes wrong and you love her for it.
Her crush, Adam, is sweet and charming. Although I don’t find myself rooting for them; I’m picky and he’s a little dull for my romance satisfaction.
Bella is supported by a well rounded group of friends, all lovely people with their own problems. It was quite nice to have a book where there wasn’t a single character I didn’t like.
Then there was the lodger who wasn’t all she seemed. There was a trickle of mystery behind her glossy look and it’s quite delightful to see the character develop.
The book centres on the opening and running of a shop Bella’s mum has opened which works in parallel with Bella’s own journey; winning a competition for the band of the moment to play at her school.
It’s a easy read plot of situation build up, catastrophe and resolution. It’s wonderful, and not entirely predictable like it could have been. There’s a great end that will leave any reader satisfied.
It’s a personal thing for me, but working with students all day means I have very little time for the ‘teen voice’ that is represented here in Truly Madly Awkward. It’s not bad, by all means, but is not something I enjoy. It’s actually a testament to the writer that she is so competent that all the other elements were enough to keep me invested. It wasn’t offputting, but it did sometimes take me out of the narrative.
My biggest issue was the coupled words and the abbreviations. They are things that are banned in my classroom. I have no reason for it, other than I think I’m getting old.
However, leaving my grumpy aging arse aside; the writing is very current and one that the intended readers will love and it enables those readers to engage with Bella further.
No Safer Place Book Club
The wonderful Zoe over at http://www.nosaferplace.co.uk/ is holding a chat today at 6pm over on Twitter. Use the hashtag #nspBookClub, introduce yourself and come join us for an hour of fun, chat and bookish geekery.
Check out Hannah’s blog post about the Book Club here