It takes more than a pink cover, Christina Aguilera references and a cast of eccentrically named girly mates to make a successful teen rom-com. Dialogue must sparkle as much as the jacket, situation and set-up should provide opportunities for warmth and sensitivity as well as for comedy. Queens of the genre Cathy Hopkins, Cathy Cassidy and Louise Rennison make it look easy, and that’s another prerequisite.
Congratulations to Samantha Mackintosh for her debut novel in this genre is a witty and accomplished teen romp with a distinctive voice and hugely appealing central character.
15-year-old Tallulah Bird, aka Lula, Lu, Tatty or T-Bird, is in a desperate state: it’s less than a week until her 16th birthday and she’s never been kissed. It’s not for want of trying but rumour has got round that she’s jinxed, a threat to any boy whose lips come anywhere near her. With most likely candidates and her best friends out of town on holiday, the scene is set for a desperate race against time.
This is no slapstick comedy however, instead the humour derives from Lula’s idiosyncratic take on the situation and quick-fire banter with friends and family. Mackintosh handles a number of sub-plots deftly too, and isn’t afraid to touch on a darker issue as we realise that Lula’s father is struggling with addiction.
This is clever, assured and most importantly fun. Mackintosh is an author to watch.