Music, boys and bombers: books for teenage girls

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The Independent Culture

Reviewed by Poppy Fraser (aged 13)

Fashionistas: Hadley, By Sarra Manning (Hodder 5.99) fourstar

Imagine living the high life of an LA child actress superstar before moving to London to re-launch your career as a teenager! Well, that's exactly what clever and beautiful Hadley Harlow is doing. But when her dad is put in jail, she goes to live with three other young models in the West End, and has to learn how to live in the real world of jobs, boyfriends and alcohol.

This is like most other teenage superstar novels, but is nonetheless an enjoyable exciting and funny read which in some places made me laugh out loud.

Life on the Refrigerator Door, By Alice Kuipers (Macmillan 7.99) threestar

15-year-old Claire lives with her mum, but they lead separate lives. Claire is forever at her friend's house or in pursuit of local boys, while her mum works long shifts delivering babies. So this book is composed entirely of the notes that they leave one another on the fridge door. One day Claire's mum leaves a note that changes everything a sad, short and very personal note. She has breast cancer.

The plot isn't too lively and I did not have that much fun reading it, but this is a quirky book, and it does discuss important issues.

Just Listen, By Sarah Dessen (Penguin 5.99) fivestar

Annabel is a drop dead gorgeous young model living life to the full, until one summer when everything goes wrong. She breaks up with her two best friends, and is left all by herself at school, until new boy Owen introduces her to very weird music, (the kind that she thought only dads listened to). It helps her get through difficult times when her sister nearly dies from anorexia and her family falls apart. She learns to control her life, and how silence can just be so freaking loud!

Sarah Dessen really knows how to get inside the mind of young people and this is a truly amazing book, which understands how our minds work and how our lives are. It's as though it was actually told by a real teenager, which makes a great change from other teen fiction. Brilliant: any half-normal teenage girl is guaranteed to love it.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, By Gabrielle Zevin (Bloomsbury 6.99) twostar

When Naomi, a perfectly normal and popular girl, falls down the snowy steps at her school, she develops amnesia and forgets the last three and a half years of her life. She decides that she doesn't like who she used to be and tries to re-invent herself, but the author does not make it clear if she is successful or not.

This book does have a potentially brilliant plot, but the way it's written does not do it justice. In places it is slow and repetitive and does not hold the reader's attention. This is a shame.

Forever Rose, By Hilary McKay (Hodder 10.99) fourstar

The Casson family household is never a dull place to be, but the youngest daughter, Rose, finds it hard to keep up with all of the activity. Her artistic mum goes germ-crazy and shuts herself away in her garden shed, her eldest sister has a baby, her other sister goes book mad, and her brother's friend moves in with his drum kit. So Rose decides to (illegally) camp at the zoo with her friends to escape the madness at home!

This is a crazily fantastic story with loads of mad and hilarious moments. I really enjoyed it and found it great fun to read.

The Infinite Wisdom of Harriet Rose, By Dianna Janney (Headline Review 19.99) fivestar

This is the sort of book that keeps a girl's world sane: something more about brains than boys although they do pop up in places! Harriet is a young genius and, as a birthday gift, her mum and grandmother have her philosophical meditations published. Living the high life of an author turns Harriet's world upside down, but it's not a bad thing: in fact she loves it!

Reading this really well-written book, I genuinely felt I was living Harriet's life with her. The only down side is the greedy publishers: 20 for a teen novel is too much!

The H-Bomb Girl, By Stephen Baxter (Faber 9.99) threestar

Living in the 1960s at the start of a nuclear war, Laura Mann has a key that can change everything the key to a dangerous Vulcan bomber plane, a key that her soldier father has entrusted her with, to guard for the duration of the war. This book does get quite confusing when various versions of Laura and her daughter come back from the past to try and get this key and change the future, but it was very exciting to read with lots of action and drama. It was a bit rude in some places but I think that helps to show emotions and rage.