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Girl, 15, Charming but Insane    by Sue Limb order for
Girl, 15, Charming but Insane
by Sue Limb
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

This is the first in a projected trilogy about charming, witty, and sassy fifteen-year old Jess Jordan. Jess feels deficient in aspects of her physiognomy, and has an extreme imagination. She reflects that if there was an award for 'underachiever', she would win. Her parents divorced after she was born, and she lives with Mum, a librarian with a passion for causes. Artist Dad resides 200 miles away in St. Ives. By the Sea. He communicates with Jess via mobile messages, among which are concocted horoscope predictions for the Virgo sign. Dad's offerings include 'Today Venus is in amnesia and Mercury is in opposition to Prozac. Forget about that werewolf in the cupboard under the stairs', and 'Your teddy bear will reveal that he is pregnant and will require counseling.' (These astrological readings are a lead-in at the beginning of each chapter.)

Jess ardently desires a body like that of her best friend Flora. She's attracted to handsome (Brad Pitt look) Ben Johnson, and her comfortable friend Fred is endearing, amusing, and respected by peers as the 'brain box' at Ashcroft School. Dressed for a party, Jess glows with ingenuity when she fills plastic bags with minestrone soup to improve her cleavage, and christens her breasts 'Bonnie' and 'Clyde'. The latter venture is not without mishap (an explosion no less), and the episode is caught on a hidden camera in the loo! Among Jess's revelations is the notion of the creation of a third sex, which she would appropriately name 'Shemales'. When lovable, maternal 'Granny' moves in with the urn of Grandpa's remains, Jess has to give up her street-level bedroom. Granny adds spice to the story with her addiction to gruesome news reports involving body parts.

This heart-warming story has moments of frustration for its delightful teen heroine, who takes lots of hard knocks along with the good happenings. Limb discloses what life is like for a teenage girl, coping with high school and the opposite sex. I recommend Girl, 15, Charming but Insane as an ace read, both entertaining, and unpredictable. The ending leaves unanswered questions which will hopefully be revealed in book two and three of this sure-to-succeed trilogy.

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