Real life was never so funny

3rd July 1998 at 01:00
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?. By Rosie Rushton. MELISSA. By Rosie Rushton. Piccadilly Pounds 5.99 each.


THE CHANGING FACE OF JOHNNY CASANOVA. By Jamie Rix. Walker Pounds 9.99. HATTY'S HOTLINE. By Moya Simons. Puffin Pounds 3.99.

Adele Geras enjoys fast-moving and humorous fiction for teenagers

Teenagers can be reading Crime and Punishment one day and Point Crime the next. In other words, they are like adults, and need different sorts of books to meet different needs.

Those discussed here are mainly humorous, and deal with real-life situations.

Rosie Rushton's secret lies in the structure of her books. They are like television soaps, moving rapidly from scene to scene, leaving readers eager to know what is happening in the next house - in the next life. Her Leehampton books are delightful, and full of well-drawn characters of all ages. In many stories for this age group, grown-ups are left out of the narrative, but in Where Do We Go From Here? characters from the first three books are present and just as human and amusing as ever. Serious problems are treated seriously, but there is enough laughter in the writing to make this a very enjoyable conclusion to the Leehampton quartet.

In Melissa, the fact that the heroine's mother is a vicar is the main spur to the action. Her father also plays more than just a walk-on part in the drama that unfolds when the family moves away from London to a village and Melissa learns about friendship, priorities, and compromise.

When does this author sleep? Puffin has just brought out a new Rosie Rushton series called What a Week. In each book, the same cast moves through the same seven days, and even though in each the emphasis is different, they too are fast-moving and funny.

The scene (in What a Week to Fall in Love) where Holly's mother is dressed up as a rabbit, while her father is in full Sealed Knot regalia is quite hilarious. Fun for all girls (and boys who can get past the cover image and the lime-green emery board taped to the book).

Both sexes will enjoy Jamie Rix's new slice out of the life of his glorious hero, Johnny Casanova. In The Changing Face, the agonies of puberty are accompanied by Johnny's poetic effusions and a brilliantly alive supporting cast. My favourites are the poor, long-suffering doctor and Mr Patel at the corner shop. Johnny has to negotiate the vast space that lies between him and the object of his desire, Bosie Cricket, and it's tough going. As Johnny says: "Why is there never a hole in the ground when you need one?" From the Saga of the Knitted Swimming-trunks to the Adventures of the Miniature Turkey-baster, this book is terrific. More, please.

Moya Simons is an Australian writer whose laid-back, deadpan humour is very endearing. The heroine of Hatty's Hotline writes a teenagers' agony column in the local paper. Meanwhile she has to sort out her own family problems. The result is a lively, intelligent and very funny book. Here too, the supporting players make all the difference, especially step-grandma Kitty Litta who ends up being Kitty Katt (don't ask - read the book).

There's a previous novel about Hatty ( Sit down, Mum, There's Something I've Got To Tell You) and I'm on my way to find it.

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