THE TEENAGE WORRIER'S GUIDE TO LURVE By Ros Asquith Corgi Pounds 3.99. SUSSED AND STREETWISE: A TEENAGER'S SAFETY GUIDE. FOR WEDDINGS, A FUNERAL AND WHEN YOU CAN'T FLUSH THE LOO. By Jane Goldman.
JUST DON'T MAKE A SCENE, MUM. I THINK I'LL JUST CURL UP AND DIE. YOU'RE MY BEST FRIEND I HATE YOU. By Rosie Rushton Piccadilly Pounds 5.99 each.
There's really only one thing to do if you're a teenage worrier (or ever come into contact with even the mother of a teenage worrier) and reading the Guide to Lurve. Turn to S for Sex and see what's what. Of course, it is embarrassing to discover on page 256 that this is hardly an original thought: "SEX - If you turned to this page first, you are not alone."
Indeed. And so to save you any blushes in the bookshop, let's elaborate on S for Sex, according to Letty Chubb, aged 15. "I hope you didn't turn to this section first, because sex has to be seen in the full and rich context of a lustful, I mean LURVing, relationship. Once you are over 16 it is no longer illegal to Do It . . . although as El (sic) Chubb has stated elsewhere in this Vital Tome, nobody shld (sic) feel pressurised to until they're ready . . . because it isn't obligatory and only Geeks and Nerds think the worst of you if you don't."
Now, could a mother have said it better? No, and this is the great thing about The Teenage Worrier's Guide to Lurve. It may have the most atrocious spelling, but the advice is all pretty down-to-earth stuff.
But first, some introductions. Just who is Letty Chubb? One of the puffs on The back of the book says that she is a female Adrian Mole. I would disagree - but she is funny, likeable and has a healthy attitude towards her parents. Her mother (motto: if it hadn't been for having children I could have been a great artist) thinks the answer to life's great questions lies in having a new oven. Her father (motto: if it hadn't been for having kids I'd have been a great writer) thinks the answer to life's great questions lies in his Great Unwritten Novel. In addition she has two brothers, a gerbil, a cat, a dog and a grandmother.
There is no boyfriend, adult readers will note with relief, though as she says, hope springs eternal, sob. This means that, while her book is full of fun, Angst and girlie asides, it is not so much about love as talking about love, sex and friends who let you down. Not to mention the crisis with the cat. Her own little drama with her Prince Charming, Daniel, is related at the beginning of her chapters in which LURVE is examined from A (Aardvark, Absence, Adam, adjectives, Aids, Aisle, Ankles, Anniversary, Anticipation, Aphrodisiacs, Arms, Aunts) to Z (Zodiac).
Here's a sampling:
"Frigidity: If you hear a boy say Gurl is frigid, it means she told him she wouldn't Do It with him."
"No: This word is V Good Value."
"Cardigan: Avoid this article of clothing. See Anorak."
"Beige: If attempting to attract LURVED one, do not wear beige."
"Marriage: Wrongly thought (if divorce statistics are anything to go by) to be happy culmination of Romantic Lurve. Arg. See Aisle, Engagement, Fiance, Weddings Etck. That's enuf about marriage."
"Virginity: This should be a free choice (as it is in the case of moi, ahem) and not something forced on us by Loopy Moral Majorities trying to keep us Pure Etck as though we were crystal streams until polluted by Sex."
This is agony as entertainment and one appreciates the various charms of Letty even more after dipping into a few of her competitors. Rosie Rushton's Just Don't Make a Scene Mum and I Think I'll Curl Up and Die tell the tale of five teenagers with excruciating parents. Sounds good but the stories just aren't that funny or very true to life. My personal tester (the 13-year-old daughter) pronounced them boring. I pronounce them badly written as well.
Better is her straightforward advice book You're My Best Friend - I Hate You. All teenagers detest their best friends from time to time and this book can do no harm - though it does sometimes read like one huge article from Just Seventeen.
Two books do seem worth investing in. For Weddings, a Funeral and When You Can't Flush the Loo, Teenage Tips and Tactics is a manners book with attitude, and, who knows, it might mean that you don't have to nag too much about the thank-you notes next time. More relevant is Sussed and Streetwise, which mixes safety tips, advice and telling like it is. It's not preachy but full of common sense and deals with a host of difficult topics, from Peeping Toms to Bullying.
In fact, Sussed and Streetwise is the kind of book that Letty Chubb would have read (unlike all the others). Letty is the only one that my 13-year-old recommends. She disappeared with the Guide to Lurve for hours and then returned to announce that she didn't think that I would like the book.
"I think that she might be insane, mum, plus I think it might be too explicit for you," she said. Explicit? Whatever could she mean? After all, I had already turned to S for Sex. But it seems I forgot to lookup O for, as Letty says, OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.