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Charming but Insane

Sue Limb

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Bloomsbury Childrens

Published : 2012

Copyright : Sue Limb 2004

ISBN-10 : PB 0-385-73214-7
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-385-73214-7

Publisher's Write-Up

Girl, 15, Charming But Insane, huge bum, massive ears, seeks... Well, seeks Ben Jones, but failing that, large Muslim-type burka garment to cover her deformities.

Life was tragic enough before this spring started. With a distinct lack of boobage and an arse so big that birds of prey could nest within its shadows, Jess Jordan is saddled with the Goddess Flora for a best friend, a Britney Spears look-alike so gorgeous that one grain of her divine dandruff could make the blind see again.

Jess knows that her soul mate is Ben Jones, a divine mixture of Leonardo diCaprio, Prince William, and Brad Pitt who oozes mystery and charisma. But the campaign to get Ben to notice her brings on a cavalcade of mortification and disaster, including, but not limited to, a minestrone soup explosion that takes place in her bra and a schoolwide viewing of a videotape that features a topless Jess referring to her breasts as "Bonnie" and "Clyde." Meanwhile, Jess's death-obsessed Granny moves into her bedroom, along with her grandfather's remains; her hypochondriac dad, who sends her daily "horrorscopes" like "You will fall asleep with your mouth open, and a family of earwigs will move in," acts strange about Jess staying with him this summer; and her longtime friend Fred, a television violence addict and closet thumbsucker, has decided that he can't stand being around her.

Jess is determined to make things right... but with her offbeat sense of humor and her wildly active imagination, things get complicated along the way.

'Limb's heroine is cleverer than Rennison's, less bonkers than McKay's, but just as captivating.'

The Times

'Hilarious and spot-on how it captures those boyfriend blues.'

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Molly Martin (300917) Rating (9/10)

Review by Molly Martin
Book Source: Not Known
Rating 9/10

English author Sue Limb’s Girl, 15, Charming but Insane presents to the reader Jess Jordan who is deskbound in history class. The day’s task, specified by her instructor was to pen a paper concerning King Charles I and list details indicating why the monarch was disliked by his subjects.

Actually, while her pencil is moving, Jess is really sketching and not writing at all, and, not particularly well either. Even so she is drawing and the creation is either the spectacular Ben Jones, or, a senseless iguana.

The reader is drawn into the narrative promptly. Each chapter inaugurates with a ludicrous horoscope. We learn later in the book that Jess’ dad texts them to her each morning.

Jess is agreeable, and not covetous or unpleasant as some might think, to distinguish that she lives in the wake of her best mate, who in Jess’ words: is the spectacular, brilliant, and so very empathetic, Flora.

Regarding Jess and her best friend; hers is pretty much a representative case of teen angst.

Novelist Limb captures the essence of a somewhat nonconforming teen character and her friends in this merrily offered version having British implications. Told in the first person by Jess herself, Girl 15, Charming but Insane is a nicely penned, pleasure of a volume. It is an outright entertaining, at times hilarious, rib-tickling work, one of the few I have reviewed in a long time targeting upper middle grades – high school readers. It is one, which produced in this reviewer chuckles, at times uproariously so throughout the read.

Jess's life story is pretty representative, it seems, of that of so many teens; whatever the country of their residence. The teen years just seem to be fraught with so many growing up and becoming adult type issues.

Fifteen-year-old Jess resides with her librarian mom who is captivated in causes, in her case it is demonstrating against war, any war, wherever it may be taking place. Dad is an absent parent who lives some miles away. Jess has a longing for the best-looking, most sought after boy in her class; the so so gorgeous Ben Jones.

I found Jess to be an unquestionably charming character, she is intelligent and witty, is sliding through classes, a potential comedienne having a spectacular vivacity and dandy comedic timing, not that anyone notices.

Jess admires the faultless Flora who is her best girlfriend, nonetheless Jess depends on her longtime old friend, Fred, for solidity, fidelity and when necessary, a shoulder to cry on.

Spending time in class, attending somewhat half-heartedly to lessons, desperately hoping for the appearance of cleavage, feeling that she just does not measure up to any of her classmates, and most principally not to Flora the gorgeous. Jess attends, a party where, unbeknownst to the girls, a camera has been hidden in the loo, wailing problems to her friend Fred. Giving aide to Flora, Ben and his cousin to help them improve their band which is extremely awful, writing a script for her part in the school talent show, then getting sick and not being able to perform the stand-up routine only to have Flora do it and get all the acclamation. And, at last starting to appreciate a solid rock of a friend may be more noteworthy than trying to snag a fellow every girl in school is pursuing openly or covertly, Girl 15, Charming but Insane is just plain fun to read.

This tome written by a British author is jam-packed with British slang which American readers may need to interpret, not a problem sez this reviewer, if anything it may broaden the teen vocabulary. I have noticed the Middle Grades and Teen students frequently enjoy adopting a word or phrase or more in a language not spoken by everyone else in the class.

I find, based on many years in the classroom, and juxtaposition to scores of teens over the years; the characters presented in Girl 15, Charming but Insane are neither sex crazed nor goody two-shoes, they are pretty normal kids with commonplace kid responses to school, associations and family. Kissing is mentioned, but nothing more in depth, which makes the book fine for the younger reader.

Girl 15, Charming but Insane targets upper middle grade reading audience into high school readers, in particular it will appeal to 11-15-year-old girls. Nevertheless virtually anyone, pre-teens, teens, moms, grandma’s and aunties can appreciate and relate to Jess' selections, and difficulties she faces, as she is finding herself and her place in the world of middle school and beyond.

Good entertaining read, happy to recommend for middle grades and older readers.
Molly Martin (30th September 2017)

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