Book reviews and recommendations, Borrowbox, Young Adult 12-15

Orla’s YA Book of the Month

Title: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole 13 3/4

Author:  Sue Townsend

Genre: YA General Fiction

Review: by Orla O’ Brien (Kildare Town Library)

Synopsis: Meet Adrian Mole, a hapless teenager providing an unabashed, pimples-and-all glimpse into adolescent life. Writing candidly about his parents’ marital troubles, the dog, his life as a tortured poet and ‘misunderstood intellectual’, Adrian’s painfully honest diary is still hilarious and compelling reading thirty years after it first appeared.


Adrian Mole begins to pen his diary on January 1st 1981. His naive and innocent view of the world is endearing. Neither a child nor a fully-fledged adult Adrian is stuck in that awkward teenage phase. Adrian’s spotty, riddled face consumes him and causes him grief and anxiety. Like a typical adolescent he is embarrassed by his parent’s behaviour. He hints that a social worker would send him somewhere else if they knew the conditions he was living under. 

He regards himself as an intellectual. He constantly drops the names of high-brow books, and provides an amusing take on each one. Despite receiving numerous rejections from the BBC, for his poetry entries, he is confident he will be a successful writer someday. Although he is a self-proclaimed intellectual, he fails to interpret the social world around him. 

Even though there are several signs and signals, he is shocked to learn of his mother’s scandalous affair, with the sleazy, married man next door. There are many humorous teenage angst entries in this diary. For example, when his Dad gives him permission to paint his room any colour he likes. Adrian choses black paint. After several coats of paint his cringy Noddy wallpaper keeps peeping through. 

He is bashful around his beau, Pandora. Infatuated with her he pines for her unrequited love. Adrian is rebellious by wearing red socks instead of white socks to school. Pandora spurs him on to start a revolution. This book also tackles some grim issues which were prevalent in that era, such as a high rate of unemployment and lack of social funding. We learn that Adrian’s Dad falls into a deep depression, after losing his job. He finds it hard to cope when his wife leaves him. 

Not only is Adrian neglected so is the house. Sometimes it’s a struggle to put food on the table. Despite having a dysfunctional family Adrian Mole is developing into a caring, mature, ambitious young man. He remains resilient and hopeful even through dark times. 

Available to borrow on Bolinda Borrowbox as an ebook.

 Prefer a physical copy? Feel free to request it online from your local library make an appointment to visit your local library and collect it when we notify you it has arrived.

We hope you enjoyed this review. Remember under the Government’s Keep Well Campaign – Switching off and being creative or learning something new, getting back to nature, and finding ways to relax can help our general wellbeing. For more information check out our blog posts here and here or take a look at the Kildare County Council’s Keep Well page for the latest activities to help you Keep Well.

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