Author Jenny McLachlan
Genre Young Adult Fiction
Review by Orla O’ Brien Kildare Town Library
Synopsis Perfect for fans of Geek Girl and Louise Rennison.
Betty Plum has never been in love. She’s never even kissed a boy. But when H.O.T. Toby starts school it’s like Betty has been hit with a thousand of Cupid’s arrows. It’s like a bomb has exploded – a love bomb!
More than ever Betty wishes her mum hadn’t died when Betty was a baby. She really needs her mum here to ask her advice. And that’s when she finds hidden letters for just these moments. Letters about what your first kiss should feel like and what real love is all about! Is Betty ready to fall in love? Will she finally have her first kiss?
This book deals with the trials and tribulations of teenage angst. We are reminded, by Betty’s self-deprecating internal dialogue, that it is not easy being a teenager. When hormones are bubbling to the surface love can be a confusing terrain to navigate. This book fully embraces what it is like being a teenager. We are shown that school is not just a factory, churning out excellent exam results, but an institution that helps to shape and mould students for their future. Friendship and loyalty are valued highly, and relationships have been tested throughout the book.
It also challenges the status quo of love in the movies versus reality. This book explores how impulsive teenagers can be consumed with thoughts of their first kiss. Betty’s expectations of love don’t quite live up to the fantasy inside her head. She has created a daydream where love runs smoothly without any obstacles. This book highlights the heartbreak and anguish of unrequited love. Everything Betty knows about love has been thrown up in the air. There are also harsh lessons to be learned such as not judging people by the way they look.
Although Betty’s Dad is amazing and cool the reader can’t help but notice the gaping hole left by the absence of Betty’s mother. She has grown up with a void in her life, having lost her Mum to cancer at the tender age of two. Betty is anchored by reading her late mother’s letters in the attic. Her mother anticipated that Betty would need advice long after she was gone. The heart wrenching letters add depth and tackles the issues of grief and loss. One of the triumphs of the book is witnessing Betty evolve into a mature, self-assured independent young lady.
This book is a real treat to read. Words and characters are stitched seamlessly together. It is a real page turner, sprinkled with love quotes and heartfelt humour. The author has an English degree and has worked as a secondary school teacher. She shows warmth, empathy and compassion for what it’s like to be a teenager. Her lingo and spontaneity engage the reader. You don’t need to be a teenager to enjoy this book!
Available to borrow on Bolinda Borrowbox here