RUDE AWAKENING

VANESSA WALTERS is 18, black and British, and she doesn't hang about. She's now in her first year studying law at University College London, but she wrote her debut novel, Rude Girls (Pan pounds 4.99), in her summer holidays from school; her headmistress recommended her to get an agent, and this led to a substantial advance from Macmillan while she was still a schoolgirl. The novel moves at speed, too. By the end of Chapter One we have met a gang of Yardies, been to a raucous all-day music festival, witnessed a shooting and been involved in a car-chase through the streets of Hackney. Shree, Paula and Janice, our three fun-loving, bare-as-you- dare heroines have appeared, complete with descriptions of their hairstyles (laborious) and body types (petite, stocky, tall and thin respectively).

The Yardies drive up in their black Mercedes "emitting slack music", a very bad sign. For all the attention given to Paula's baby, Shree's drug-dealer dad and Janice's middle-class family, the action centres around the trio's attempts to find true love with a boy who is "kriss" rather than "a dog". Will Shree manage to shake off the evil gangster Nero? Will Paula get rid of Michael, her no-good babyfather, and will Janice, in the funniest sub-plot of all, ever learn that laid-back ragga dee-jay Elroy loves her more than Rolex-wearing "coconut" Maurice. Janice gets a job - her friends see this as a definite, though harmless, eccentricity, funded as they are by the proceeds of dealing or by the State - and falls in with black accountant Maurice. He disapproves of her batty-riders, lurex and hair decorations. In one hilarious scene, Shree and Paula strip Janice of her dowdy new gear, and take her out in a pink, gold, silver and blue "glittering sequinned top and leggings suit ... [with] diamond dollar signs and 'Dem nuh wicked like me' in gold beads across the chest".

The author does not seem entirely at home with the Yardies ("Until recently, Terror had been enjoying the good life. A craving for luxuries had led him into a life of babymothers, constant raving and lavish spending. But this decadent lifestyle had loosened his wits") and her grip on Maurice's upmarket milieu is equally shaky. A spokeswoman for the publishers said: "The book is not imaginative; she's writing about her own experiences and her community." Well, there's a little bit more to it than that. Walters turns out to be the product of a swanky private girls' school, Queen's College in Harley Street, W1. Jim Hutchinson, Deputy Head of Queen's College, is bubbling over with enthusiasm for his former pupil. "She came in via the assisted place scheme - all her fees were paid for her. Initially she was quiet and shy, but we soon uncovered a multi-talented personality: at 14 she could act, dance, sing and write, and there's an academic side to her too: she studied Greek at 'A' Level and she wants to be a lawyer." Hutchinson is head of computer studies and used to tell Walters off for printing out huge reams of prose: "It isn't a photocopier!" Walters used to try out selections from the book on her friends: "It existed almost in serial form: you'd see gangs of girls laughing hysterically," says Hutchinson.

Queen's College itself is a notable establishment; soon to celebrate its 150th anniversary, it was a pioneer of girls' education. "We like to point out that 'Miss Beale and Miss Buss / Were educated by us'," says Hutchinson. Another ex-pupil is Emma Freud: "she was always going off to do exciting things, acting and so forth, but just like Vanessa, completely unspoiled by all the attention." They are both, he says proudly, the type of independent-minded young women that "we churn out here".

Ms Walters may have a bit to learn about technique, but her characters are racy, believable and sharply defined, her style is amusing (perhaps more so than she intends) and the yap-yap of her three feisty heroines fits comfortably into the current trend for fiction led by authentic, spicy dialogue. For anyone who isn't black, teenage and London-bred, it's a wonderfully enjoyable piece of earwigging.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Arts and Entertainment
Full throttle: Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in God's Pocket
film
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie Minogue is expected to return to Neighbours for thirtieth anniversary special
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?