Like Other Girls by Claire Hennessy

9781471406348

‘Here’s what Lauren knows: she’s not like other girls. She also knows it’s problematic to say that – what’s wrong with girls? She’s even fancied some in the past. But if you were stuck in St Agnes, her posh all-girls school, you’d feel like that too. Here everyone’s expected to be Perfect Young Ladies, it’s even a song in the painfully awful musical they’re putting on this year. And obviously said musical is directed by Lauren’s arch nemesis. Under it all though, Lauren’s heart is bruised. Her boyfriend thinks she’s crazy and her best friend has issues of her own…so when Lauren realises she’s facing every teenage girl’s worst nightmare, she has nowhere to turn. Maybe she should just give in to everything. Be like other girls. That’s all so much easier …right?’

Oh this book! I really don’t think that blurb does it any justice. There’s so much going on here and so much to love. It reads like a teenaged girl’s political commentary on life and it is FIERCE.

Lauren is deliciously snarky, stroppy and opinionated. She is also fragile, emotional and confused. She is a young woman dealing with all that that entails, navigating her way through school and her changing relationship with her mum and all the social expectations thrown at her every day. Add to that a complicated friendship, a confusing relationship and a hormonal rollercoaster and you get a realistic, flawed, honest character responding to the world around her in a believable way. I loved her.

And yet I’ve seen some mixed reviews of this book. Lots raving about it but a couple where the readers gave up after the first chapter because they felt the book was ‘problematic’. I think it’s honest. It shows a character dealing with a lot of emotionally charged stuff and having emotional responses. For me it felt like an honest representation of a teenager dealing with a very close friend transitioning – with all her very human responses and reactions of confusion and anger and resentment. So while some readers might immediately say ‘argh you can’t say that, it’s problematic’, I was nodding right along with her. Because people are emotional beings and we mess up and we say stuff we shouldn’t really say and don’t really mean because we’re angry or hurt or confused. That’s life. Showing readers that reality, and saying it’s okay to feel like that, is fair game imho, and what I would have loved to have available to me as a young adult reader.

Claire Hennessy is a legend. She has written an intelligent, informed and angry book showing the injustice of Irish abortion laws. And she has written it so well. She shows the emotional trauma of dealing with a hugely messed up system and she screams about it from the rooftops. Eliza Wass said ‘write like it’s your only message to the world’ and Like Other Girls felt like Claire Hennessy doing just that. Writing what she needed to write.

You can get your copy here.

Source – e-copy kindly sent for review by Hot Key Books

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