Saturday, 18 January 2014

Have a Little Faith, by Candy Harper

Troublemaker year 10 Faith has been re-allocated tutor group as punishment for her many academic misdemeanors.  Cruelly separated from her best mate Megs, she's got to convince stone hearted head of year Miss Ramsbottom that she is a reformed character and model student so that they can be reunited.  However, fate just throws too many opportunities for mischief in her way and Faith just cannot resist rising to the challenge.

Being at an all girls' school lacks a certain amount of mixed-sex-mingling, so despite being a musical dunce, Faith just cannot resist joining the choir in order to meet boys from the local boys' school. Add in a crazy serial-dater granny, some year 10 girl rivalry, some friend drama and boy angst, and year 10 is going to be an interesting year.

My first problem with this book was the many, many interchangeable 15 year olds.  I think there were about 4 main girls and a few peripheral ones?  I'm really not sure.  The boys too.  What they said and did was all sort of blended together. Characterisation on the whole was pretty weak and underdeveloped as all characters fell into one of the following groups: pretty but dumb, thus appealing to boys; scatty and quirky, not so attractive to boys; sworn enemy, but appealing to boys; boy, or uninteresting adult.

Largely though, my problem was Faith, the narrator.  She was difficult to read most of the time and made this book a bit of a slog.  Perhaps the author was trying to evoke the brash swagger of a teen; "I'm incredibly witty and hilarious 100% of the time. Listen to me: hear my quips" or whether she was just an unpleasant character is unclear, but I got bored very quickly of her arrogance and her lack of redeeming qualities.  What Faith considered brilliant comedy came across to me as cruelty, meanness, idiocy and basically being that girl in school that thinks they're hilarious that everybody hates. It's pretty difficult to relate to such a horrible bully. Normally a character like Faith would learn a lesson from the way she's treated people or their behaviour, or the things that happen to themselves and their friends.  Not Faith.  She's far too good for lessons.

The book did deal with some relevant issues, such as jealousy and rivalry in female friendship groups which is very relatable.  It's a mystery why everybody is killing themselves to be Faith's BFF though. Dealing with annoying siblings, first boyfriends, the dilemmas of what to wear for what event and the delicate etiquette of texting would resound with the target audience, but it's not enough to make up for the disappointing narrator. Not a fan, I'm afraid.

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