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How to be Popular

Ananya C.

By Cathy Cassidy
Puffin Books, New Delhi, 2008, pp. 240, Rs. 395.00

By Michael Lawrence
Orchard Books, New Delhi, 2008, pp. 304, Rs. 130.00

VOLUME XXXII NUMBER 11 November 2008

Ginger Snaps reads like pleasant homily from the friendly neighbourhood agony aunt, and that is exactly what this book is purported to be. It begins with a pleasant sugary sweet homily by the author on the joys of friendship, the importance of believing in oneself and the advantages of following one’s own heart.   It stresses on the demonstration of true friendship and how a ‘wrong’ boy may turn out to be the right one! The one true line in the foreword is probably where it states that the book will start you thinking. What if it had all turned out opposite and the ‘wrong’ boy was wrong all along? This is the story of a young girl, Ginger Brown, who was never popular at junior school. For a number of reasons—take your pick—her name was not actually great, her hair was the wrong colour, she was a born loser, she was so fat, any or all of the above. At Kinnerton High, she is taken under the wing of the supreme socialite, Shannon and there is no looking back. The next year, she comes across this ‘wrong’ guy, Sam Taylor and her heart flips over, badly. However, she doesn’t know it yet. In another twist, an old friend has been doomed to solitude. This friend turned friendless reminds Ginger of past favours and is befriended by the social duo. Shannon refuses to give the time of the day to Shannon resulting in a clash of egos. After an eventful teenage party involving drinks, disorder and a popular school teacher, Ginger Brown realizes that the ‘wrong’ guy is better and she had better choose between her friendships.   A ham-handed solution is to create a situation where adult control is absent and teenage colours are exposed. A set of over-indulgent parents are removed. A popular school teacher is propped up as a fall guy and made to face the brunt of injustice. Shannon loses our sympathy and is exposed as the worm in the apple—the arch villain! Such contrived problems and facile solutions make a bored reader. Adolescent problems never come any bigger but one does wish that their solutions were as simple!   Maggot Pie is the latest offering in the series of successive adventures of a teenager, Jiggy McCue, billed as the ‘unluckiest kid in town’. The series had started with The Poltergoose, a takeoff from ...

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