The rather improbably named Electra Brown has a good deal on her plate – literally, when her Dad takes her out for a gigantic pizza to see if she can help him to come back to the marital home he left six months earlier for another woman – and metaphorically, when things never quite work out in the way she intended.
There’s a generous sprinkling of teenage issues here: Electra’s friend Lucy is self-harming as a result of her mother’s obsessive insistence on perfection; Electra finds herself attracted to the school misfit and betrays him rather than admit her feelings to her friends; her Mum has a new man who seems to be taking up permanent residence and Electra has to plot how she might persuade him to leave so that her father can come home. The most convincing things about the book are the difficulties a friend faces when told something in confidence which she knows she must talk to an adult about and the terrifying consequences of an impromptu party when parents are not at home.
There seems to be more than a nod towards the Georgia Nicholson diaries here but the book falters at the start, trying to find a plausible voice and oscillating between somewhat jarring crudity and slapstick humour. The narrative settles later and the ending is a satisfactory one which doesn’t try to resolve all the issues too neatly.