How (not) To Be a Successful Teen is the tagline of Aimee Said’s young adult novel about Year Ten student Freia Lockhart (Fray to her friends, Sausage to her Dad). It is a funny, occasionally cringe-worthy, heart warming story about friendship and finding your place. When Freia’s best friend Kate bonds with “The B’s” over lipgloss, Freia figures if she wants to keep these friends she’s going to have to learn how to fit in with these ‘popular girls’. She even tries out for the musical that her school Westside is doing in conjunction with *GASP*, Parkville Boys. My Fair Lady wasn’t really Freia’s thing and now she’s stuck doing the lighting, (tone deaf people get put on the backstage crew) with a boy whose hair flops in his eyes and has earned the nickname Skeletor. And fielding thinly veiled barbs from her so-called friends during the breaks!
In the meantime, Freia’s university lecturer parents are not-so-thrilled that her grades are not-so-exceptional anymore (Freia suspects this is due to average intelligence, a concept not previously considered). The only good thing to come out “being such a disappointment” is English Extension tutor Nicky, a Phd student of Freia’s Mum, who loves Jane Austen (unlike Freia) and changes her hair colour every week (also unlike Freia).
There’s a little bit of romance, family struggles, friend troubles and school troubles, but it doesn’t feel rushed or like there’s too much going on. The second book Freia Lockhart’s Summer of Awful has just been released with more adventures of an older, wiser, better dressed Freia. I’ve just started it myself and Aimee Said has chosen to deal with some sensitive issues in a way that makes you want to keep reading. A difficult, but important, balance to find in young adult reading. Great reads for 13 plus girls.