PRE-TEEN AND TEEN FICTION: Diary of a Parent Trainer and My Big Fat Teen Crisis

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Review of My Big Fat Teen Crisis by Chicklish:

I really enjoyed Diary of a Parent Trainer last year, so I was thrilled when I heard Jenny Smith had a new book out and I bought a copy right away. I can happily report that My Big Fat Teen Crisis is just as great!

Thirteen-year-old Sam Wallis is a loveable character who tends to see the funny side of life; her dad’s nickname for her is ‘Smiler’. But life takes a turn for the worse when her best friend Gemma moves to the Outer Hebrides and Sam has to face school without her. At the same time, an old childhood friend reappears in Sam’s life, and she develops a sudden intense crush on a new boy. Soon she decides that she needs a whole new look – and possibly a slightly altered, more dramatic life story, too.

I loved all the characters in this book – except Tania, of course, but I was happy with the way things worked out in that part of the storyline.
Sam and her faraway best friend Gemma both had a brilliantly quirky outlook, and the ups and downs of their friendship rang absolutely true, as did the various messages and Facebook-style updates that appear throughout the book. I was thoroughly entertained by the inclusion of comedy goats, ironic sweatshirts, poorly sheep, knitting, music festivals, teachers with odd habits, parents going through mild mid-life crises and so much more. The story had a satisfying and touching ending. I finished this book a few days ago and I keep remembering small details and laughing to myself.

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Review of Diary of a Parent Trainer by Amazon Vine Reviewer:

I really enjoyed this book – it’s funny, witty and charming. I would definitely suggest this for a pre teen audience, the humour is gentle and not brash or crude. It also made me sob buckets at the end. I loved it.

Review of Diary of a Parent Trainer by A Dream of Books:

This was a lovely little book which I think will definitely appeal to a slightly younger teen audience. I found it a quick and enjoyable read which I’m hoping might be the first in a series as I’d really like to read more by Jenny Smith.

Ever wondered how to cope with your parents on a daily basis? Wonder no more, because thirteen year old Katie Sutton has all the answers in her operating guide for grown-ups. The book consists of a series of diary entries containing advice and hints on how to handle your grown-up when they’re in a range of different moods. Katie thinks she knows it all but when her Mum starts acting out of character she suddenly has to throw the rule book out the window!

Katie is a wonderfully fresh and original teenage voice. Her character is extremely realistic, experiencing all the same emotions that teenagers the world over face and I certainly found myself identifying with some of what she has to go through. She’s an appealing narrator because she’s funny and witty and a great central character. I also loved her younger brother Jack who tells it like it is, her older sister Mandy who has boy troubles of her own and her cute west highland terrior Rascal. They make a great family unit and really pull together when it matters most.

The book touches on series issues as well, such as the death of Katie’s father and the siblings having to adjust to there being a new man in their mother’s life. These were handled sensitively and realistically and were a nice balance to the lighter aspects of the story which covered dealing with the opposite sex and the pangs of first love.

This is a brilliant debut novel which made me laugh and smile and is sure to appeal to a wide female teen audience.

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