My So-Called Life
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The lengthy quotation on the cover of My So-Called Life makes it clear that the protagonist is an upper middle-class teenager from a wealthy suburb who would like to dip her toe into a Jacqueline Wilson experience of deprivation – perhaps on a council estate with inadequate parents. The author strives for a witty, ironic, throwaway style which too often becomes patronising or even insulting – pupils in a Special Needs group are labelled ‘criminals and retards’ and there is much sneering at the lottery winners who move into the area complete with doorbell which plays ‘Rule Britannia’ and statues of Alsatians guarding the front door.
There are moments of genuine humour but the ‘laugh-out-loud diary’ promised in the blurb too often degenerates into clumsy stereotypes or farce. It is a fine literary line between irony and condescension – the Georgia Nicholson diaries walk it perfectly, My So-Called Life does not.