Smells like teen spirit

THERE’S been a surge of teenage fiction by established Irish authors of late. And it seems a natural diversion for Denise Deegan, who has published four well-received novels for adults.

Those stories, featuring families in crisis, showed that she has an ear tuned in to the voices of children.

Alex is 16. She’s attractive, confident and popular. Daughter of a famous rock star, she attends a sought-after, south Dublin co-ed school, along with other children of the famous.

Life was good, until her mother died. But now her world has fallen apart.

She’s lost her father to work. Worst of all, she’s lost her trust in just about everything. She can’t confide in her two closest friends; she can’t stand the publicist, the cook and the entourage who surround ‘the Rockstar’. She stops captaining the hockey team, and rejects the advances of the American surfing dude, David McFadden.

David wants to help; his own mother died, but Alex can’t forgive him for being happy. The only person she can talk to is her feisty grandmother. Oh, and her beloved dog, Homer; a retriever who won’t retrieve.

When David rescues Alex from a lecherous guy at a party, she softens towards him. And soon their romance is in full flow. Then, he announces he’s going back to the States, and Alex’s world crumbles again. Will she learn to survive?

This is a gem of a book; intriguing, deep and thoughtful. Alex is a feisty heroine, and her voice rings strong and true.

It’s fun entering the world of the privileged teen, with their credit cards, fake tans and less-affluent friends. Teenagers — and adults — will adore this book. It kept me up half the night.

What a difference two years make. Journalist Anna Carey’s debut shares some aspects in common with And By The Way. Rebecca Rafferty has two best friends. She has a famous parent; in this case, a mum who’s a popular novelist. But Rebecca Rafferty is just 14. An awkward, in-between age; an age spent hating her embarrassing parents and fancying boys from afar. And home, for Rebecca, is a three-bedded house in Drumcondra.

Rebecca has never liked being the daughter of an author. She cringes each time the new English teacher at her all-girls school brings it up. Which is every two minutes, it seems. But when her mother turns her hand to teenage fiction, and says that she was inspired by Rebecca, and her sister Rachel’s antics, her resentment knows no bounds. She’s mortified.

The Real Rebecca charts a term in Rebecca’s life; a term when she is determined to show that she is not like Ruthie, the soppy heroine of her mother’s book.

She’s equally resolute at spurning the efforts of a rich classmate, who wants her to be the star guest at a televised party extravaganza.

Meanwhile, she lives for Fridays. That’s the day ‘paperboy’ calls for his money. He’s gorgeous. Rebecca spends hours lying in her room thinking about him. Will he ever make a move?

When she’s lent some drums, and forms a girl band, nobody takes her seriously. But might she just make a success of it, at the battle of the bands?

Anna Carey played in several bands, so she knows the scene. She’s got Rebecca’s voice spot on, too.

Written as a diary, this one is aimed at the pre-teen. And they’re sure to love it.


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