Thanks to @JoeCurtis87 for writing the first guest blog here at Exploits of a Chick Lit Aficionado. As teenagers he lent me the entire series that he's reviewing here today, and I still adore them!
You could tell what I found important as a teenager by its place in a growing mountain of possessions that spilled from my bed to my floor. At the bottom would be my going out clothes, forever waiting for that promised land, the washing machine, only to be inevitably worn on the next fairly genteel social occasion. Above them, appropriately slim and squashed, as if they’d been compressed by the weight from above like igneous rock, were my skateboard magazines. On top of all of them were my books.
The titles in the pile changed but a lot of the authors did not. Terry Pratchett, Mervyn Peake, Brian Jacques, Arthur Conan Doyle, Philip Pullman; all these names were sorry regulars in my pit of a pubescent's bedroom.
There were a few books which never changed. Some great works, actually, but the ones which really struck a chord with me as a 16-year-old was the Hard Cash trilogy by Kate Cann.
With titles like the second in the series, ‘Shacked Up: slang living together, whether you like it or not’, they perfectly encapsulated the teenage experience I thought I should be having, while really being a bit scared of all those people out there.
The series follows Rich, an ironically-named hard up 17-year-old artist, as he chases the fittest girl at college, Portia, aka The Porsche, all the while oblivious of Bonny, the dull girl who pines after Rich as she also deals with her frightening mother.
Surprise, surprise (and if you haven’t guessed, please hang your head in shame here) Bonny isn’t dull and is actually the perfect match for good ole Nick, while Portia is unquestionably not.
However, rereading them for what must be the tenth time confirmed it: the books have lost none of their magic. The characters don’t feel younger even though I’m now eight years older than them, and I stepped back into their world as easily as if they’d left the door on the latch for me.
Cann is a smarter writer than her plotlines suggest, and the characters are so well drawn that you feel as if you’re sharing their lives with them. Even when you close the book, you’re gently surprised not to see them standing next to you.
There’s also numerous hilarious lines, a bunch of brilliant side characters and even a slightly mad series conclusion set in a cult.
I read some of Cann’s other books after the series, and was a bit disappointed. They had some good ideas and characters, but it felt much more like chick-lit (sorry Ali) and I didn’t really go for them hook, line and sinker like I did Hard Cash.
If you haven’t read this excellent series then please do, go and devour it as soon as you can (I see it’s now been remarketed with girly covers, grrr, under the catchy titles Moving Out, Moving In and Moving On – but don’t let the covers put you off if you’re not a fan: the originals can still be found online). You’ll have a blast, and even I, a bookish teenager who graduated into a bookish adult, can nod confidently and say ‘Yeah’, when someone talks about the crazy parties of their youth. I didn’t go to them, but Nick and Bonny and Portia did. It was really fun.