Out of My Depth by Helen Bailey
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|Out of My Depth by Helen Bailey|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A light and enjoyable frothy novel full of teen preoccupations and cock ups. The central character is engaging, even when she's being a pain. Fun, but with little new to say.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: August 2008|
In her second novel outing, we find Electra determined to get her separated parents back together. Unfortunately, neither of her parents are particularly keen on the idea but this doesn't daunt the undefatigable Electra. She's a girl with a mission. But even girls with missions need to think about other things occasionally, and Electra thinks about breasts (or her lack of them), snogging (or her lack of it) and laptop computers (or her lack of them). She avoids thinking about homework, housework, or any other type of work, obviously.
If only things wouldn't keep getting in the way. Freaky Boy's being bullied and his father wants to know if Electra can help. Lucy's being uncharacteristically moody, and Sorrel wants to know why. AA man Phil is hanging around Mum, obstructing Dad's path to matrimonial harmony. Tits Out, the school slapper, has her claws into Electra's biggest crush. Why is nothing ever easy?
From my point of view as a mother of adolescents, Electra just has to be the most irritating character I've read about recently. She's selfish, lazy and shallow. Her good heart - and it is a good heart really - is so far below the surface, it needs a team of archaeologists (or all but four pages of a three hundred page book) to excavate it. But we get there in the end. Eventually, Electra comes good and eventually she sees the error of her ways. I should imagine that the target readership will love her though. She is funny, and she does hit all the buttons for most teen preoccupations. And, thankfully for we mothers, she does do a little growing up by the end.
There's a lot of comedy in Out of My Depth - Electra has a huge stock of hilarious one-liners and there's a constant stream of slapstick which everyone but her can see coming. The sleepover turned house-ruining party did make me laugh, and it wasn't without serious consequence in the form of a prematurely deceased pet. There are some serious issues too - family break up, self harm, learning that you can't always get what you want. For me, the frothiness of it all threatened to drown the thematic depth, but perhaps that's just because I'm old, haggard and as past it as Electra's mother, albeit without her gigantic mammaries.
Teen girls will enjoy it for what it is: light, fun, and humorous with vein of serious common sense small enough not to get on their nerves.
My thanks to the nice people at Hodder for sending the book.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Out of My Depth by Helen Bailey at Amazon.com.
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