Della Says: OMG! by Keris Stainton
|Della Says: OMG! by Keris Stainton|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: A story which will resonate with teenage girls, about first love and the fear of betrayal.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: May 2010|
Ever since she was four, Della has had a secret crush on Dan, the good-looking and gentle boy who once shared his brand new crayons with her. And now, more than ten years later, he wants to kiss her. It seems too good to be true, and for a while Della fears the whole thing is a joke, set up by mean girl Gemima. After all, Gemima is Dan's best friend. And then disaster strikes: Della's very private and confidential diary goes missing. The diary with all the excruciatingly embarrassing entries about Dan, her family, her friends...
Della feels her world is gradually falling apart. Her mother is a former model, still so gorgeous that Della feels no one could ever notice her plain daughter. Her closest friend Maddy is preoccupied with the fact that she's in love with two boys — who happen to be inseparable best mates — and doesn't want to choose between them. Her sister's boyfriend gropes her at a party. And all the while, the most secret and revealing extracts from her diary are appearing all over the place.
Della is a fairly shy girl, and her lack of self-confidence will make perfect sense to anyone who has to live in the shadow of a pretty or more gifted older sister and a beautiful mother. She loses sleep wondering who could hate her so much that they would ruin her life like this, and ends up doubting everyone, including the thoughtful and supportive Dan.
Girl readers will find Della easy to identify with. She is a sweet and honest girl, although surprisingly innocent considering her remarkably tolerant parents (who happily provide condoms and cringe-worthy advice in equal measures) and her sexually active best friend. But in your teens lack of self-confidence is a paralyzing force and because the book is written in the first person the reader has ample opportunity to identify with Della's struggles and worries. But the story is not a sad one. Keris Stainton uses a light touch and plenty of humour. She has a very good ear for the way contemporary teens speak, and she does not shy away from the topics young people will discuss when no adults are around. A passage about the horrors of hearing your parents make love is particularly realistic. The minor characters are well-portrayed too, particularly the afore-mentioned parents whose film-and-food 'theme evenings' (like Shaun of the Dead and pizza, because of the zombies' faces . . .) sound a brilliant, if rather gross, idea.
The disappearance of Della's diary and her attempts to find out who is using it to hurt her are a central strand in this book, but the main action actually deals more with the development of her relationship with Dan. The book is fairly explicit without being prurient, and while it would be a shame to restrict it to older teenagers, it might be wise for mothers of younger readers to read it before their daughters. Some girls will, for example, dislike the easy use of swearing on a few occasions. It is unlikely that many boys would dare to be seen reading this book, but they should: it would give them an excellent insight into the mysteries of the young female mind.
This book certainly provides a cautionary tale about the dangers of committing your deepest feelings to paper when you are in a temper, and the down side of social networks and mobile phones. The Facebook-inspired cover will attract readers, and the story will definitely make every girl who has ever kept a diary shudder and race for the shredder before anyone can get hold of her private thoughts. The book did end rather abruptly, though, once the villain had been revealed, and to be honest the last section could have done with being expanded. Although Della's absorption in her own affairs is absolutely true to life, many readers would, nonetheless, like to explore the villain's motives in a bit more depth.
Many thanks to Orchard Books for sending this book to Bookbag.
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