|Miss Understanding: My Year in Agony by Lara Fox|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Anonymous teenage agony aunt blogs the highs and lows of her life. A sharp and funny page-turner that makes a great summer read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: ?||Date: June 2009|
|Publisher: Hodder Children's Books|
|External links: Author's website|
After her parents divorce, sixteen year old Anya Buxton has moved with her mum and little brother to a new town and a new school. She keeps herself to herself, and after her anonymous agony aunt services on the school's website were banned she has set up her own blog to continue her advice. However, her updates begin to be less about other people's problems and more about her own issues, such as her hippy mum leaving her to look after her little brother all the time, her loneliness, how she's missing her old friends, and her confusion over her relationship with her dad's new wife.
I fully expected this to be just another girly teen book, but there was something about this that really grabbed my attention. Perhaps it was the way it's written, with Anya's blog entries, her witty (and often sarcastic) solutions to readers' problems as well as emails between her and her friends. These all made it feel very intimate, very immediate, so you get a real idea of Anya as a character as well as the other people in her life. Anya is very sharp and articulate, and I found myself looking forward to reading her 'advice' to the various problems she receives as she can be both understanding and considerate as well as bitingly acerbic.
I was a little bit confused when I first began the book as it initially felt like a sequel and I wondered if perhaps I had missed a previous edition. You're just thrown right into the thick of it, without explanations, so you have to just go along with it for a while until you get the hang of who everyone is and what's going on. There are also smatterings of topical references, such as to Pete Doherty, Amy Winehouse and Deal or No Deal which mean something now, but I did wonder how they will date for future readers. For those that like to be aware of such things there is also a little bit of coarse language, but not very much. The problems that Anya comes up against in her problem letters, as well as in her own life, often relate to the usual teenage hot topics like alcohol, smoking, dating and sex. Anya has a wise head on her shoulders though and provides good advice that manages to never sound preachy, or like a moralistic adult who is pretending to write as a teenager.
Although it's the kind of book I would hide behind a brown paper cover if I were reading it on the train (I'm nearly 34, not 14!) I found it highly addictive and a very enjoyable read. Now I just have to be patient until the sequel comes out next year!
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Miss Understanding: My Year in Agony by Lara Fox at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Miss Understanding: My Year in Agony by Lara Fox at Amazon.com.
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