Chav: (n.) A British insult for white working-class people fixated on street fashions derived from American hip-hop such as imitation gold and fake designer clothing, e.g., "It's a bruv who wears crap clothing and manky gold jewelry, innit?"
As she's been "ramming the word iPod into every sentence since last June", 15-year-old Shiraz Bailey Wood is less-than-pleased to receive a diary for Christmas. But, as there's nothing else to do, she starts writing.
And she keeps writing.
And thank goodness she did, as her hilariousity kicked me right out of my reading slump. With her crazy family (difficult mother, nice but useless father, incomprehensible and artsy older sister, obnoxious video game-obsessed younger brother, and morbidly obese dog), her quick wit and constant stream of slang that made me wish I wasn't reading an ARC because the real book includes a glossary, Grace Dent's Shiraz Bailey Wood reminded me of a slightly older, less sheltered, working class version of Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson.
But while Georgia, over the course of at least nine books, never really worries overly much about anything other than her eyebrows and who to snog, Shiraz, over the course of one, starts to wonder if there might be more to life than the world she's grown up in and around. Shiraz's voice is different from everything I've picked up lately, so refreshing and new -- she won me over immediately and I spent the entirety of the book rooting for her.
AND I wouldn't have guessed it from the cover (a thought that Shiraz would have labeled "prejudicial", so Shiraz, I do apologize and I was very wrong), but Diary of a Chav had depth. It also made me laugh out loud A LOT -- so much so that as I read, I kept interrupting Josh's own reading to read bits aloud to him* -- so it wasn't the sort of depth that ever felt heavy. It was the sort of depth that made Shiraz feel like a real person trying to figure out real stuff. I love my Georgia, but she's a bit of a cartoon. That can't be said of Shiraz.
I'm looking forward to the sequel in a big, big way.
*He laughed, too. And he wasn't pulling the old smile-and-nod to get me to shut up. Believe me, I know the difference.