After receiving unexpectedly fantastic grades, our Shiraz Bailey Wood, 16, finds herself with a choice: stay on full-time at her mind-numbing minimum-wage job frying eggs at Mr. Yolk OR enroll in Superchav Academy's new "Center of Excellence" for Sixth Formers. Despite her mother's opinion that pursuing any higher education equals "farting about after school instead of earning a living", Shiraz decides to GO FOR IT.
And go for it she does. The Center for Excellence pulls in students from all over the area, so Shiraz finds herself at school not just with the people she's grown up with, but with some posh types. Which leads to a real change in perspective for her, and a whole lot of new questions, theories and dramatics about life.
Oh, I LOVE THESE BOOKS. So much so that I've had to physically restrain myself from going all Fangirl RRROWR on the teen reviewer who has been describing Book Two as "boring and not funny" in various spots online. I'm very proud of my maturity. Anyway.
I finished Posh and Prejudice* and followed it up by throwing a tantrum** because I didn't have another one. Seriously, how long will I have to wait for Book Three? A whole year? Because I don't know if I can do it. "Boring and not funny" does not these books describe. At least for me.
Again, there are surface similarities to the Rennison books (diary format, lots of British slang, chicklitty feel), but I like Shiraz so much more than Georgia. She's more of a real person, for one, but beyond that, she's also less selfish and more loving. She cares. A lot. Her family drives her bananas and when her perspective begins to change, she definitely feels some embarrassment about them, but she loves them none the less. And she's protective of them.
I loved that Shiraz's feelings about Wesley***, her family, her world, the new people she's getting to know and the new worlds she's beginning to explore (the world outside Goodmayes, the world of academia, the world that the posher students inhabit) are complicated. She doesn't have easy answers and even if she was willing to ask someone, there wouldn't be any easy answers to give.
I think these are books that can easily be read on multiple levels -- yes, on the surface, they're light and funny and some people might be tempted to dismiss them as being substanceless. But they aren't. Shiraz's situation -- at home, romantically, at school, her vision of the future -- is complicated. And so is she.
*Supposedly, P&P is being released this month, but Amazon has it listed as December and doesn't have cover art up -- I emailed LB to see what the deal is, and I'll update this, hopefully later today. The only image I could find online was this eensy one [ETA: FOUND ONE, but as I think the tiny one is funny, I'm leaving it up.]:
**Not even remotely exaggerating. Ask Josh.
***This storyline was especially well-done -- I don't even have a direction I'm rooting for the story to go in, because it's such a difficult, mix-y situation. I feel sad for both of them. And I love them both, too.