Rebecca Rafferty is 14 and consumed by the kind of problems that make teen chick-lit so much fun: these include an extremely irritating older sister; a geography teacher obsessed with global warming and the devastation it will cause to Rebecca’s neighbourhood in particular; plus a passion for the gorgeous boy who delivers their papers on a Saturday, referred to throughout as Paperboy. All these fade to nothing however when her mother, a successful author, sets out to RUIN REBECCA’S LIFE (the capitals are completely necessary here) by writing a teen novel she claims is inspired by the ‘antics’ of her daughters.
No matter how much she denies it, all her class and even some of her teachers, are convinced that the central character, depicted on the cover as a ‘pouty girl in Ugg boots’, is based on Rebecca.
The book is written in diary form and Rebecca’s sharp descriptions of her daily humiliations are very entertaining. Anna Carey is a journalist and the plot fairly rattles along, a series of vivid incidents peppered with witty one-liners. She has a great ear for dialogue, and the teen voices are spot on; the scenes between Rebecca and her big sister Rachel in particular work very well.
Carey has played in bands since she was a teenager herself and Rebecca finds her salvation through music: she too forms a band with her friends – they call themselves Hey Dollface – and beats out her frustration on a drum kit, winning the admiration of Paperboy in the process of course. At no point however does this feel clichéd or predictable, testament to Carey’s talent.
Publisher O’Brien Press has a reputation for discovering talented children’s authors, and this is a very good debut novel: despite the familiar territory, it is fresh and original and Carey has a distinctive voice.