Louise Rennison’s (1999-2009) ten-book series about fourteen-year-old Georgia Nicolson, a British teen who writes elaborate journal entries, began with Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging. Louise Rennison, a British comedian, is amazing, and the interviews she gives about the Georgia Nicolson series on her website are hilarious. I sort of remember her saying in one of them that she forgot to change the names of the characters before sending the book to her editor, so that characters like Robbie and Wet Lindsey in the book actually parallel a real Robbie and a real Wet Lindsey. It has since been adapted into a movie that mostly follows with the plot of the book, if not completely, at least in keeping with the way that Georgia introduces herself to her audience, through a short list entitled “There are six things very wrong with my life”:
1. I have one of those under-the-skin spots that will never come to a head but lurk in a red way for the next two years.
2. It is on my nose.
3. I have a three-year-old sister who may have peed somewhere in my room.
4. In fourteen days the summer hols will be over and then it will be back to Stalag 14 and Oberfuhrer Frau Simpson and her bunch of sadistic “teachers.”
5. I am very ugly and need to go into an ugly home.
6. I went to a party dressed as a stuffed olive.
Georgia is by far one of my favorite characters in young adult literature. Sometimes her voice and vocab just get things so right, and every time a new book in this series came out, I would seriously rush to the bookstore and finish it in the same day.
This first book introduces readers to Georgia and her Ace Gang: Jas, Rosie, Julia, and Ellen. It mostly follows Georgia’s romantic attempts with Robbie the Sex God, the guitarist of the band The Stiff Dylans and her best friend Jas’s involvement with Robbie’s brother Tom. And in between that is school, concerts, family, and hanging out with friends, and Georgia’s cutting observation of it all. Georgia’s school classes are a particular highlight of the books, and, in Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, Georgia explains:
Home, exhausted from laughing. My ribs hurt. Slim had made me be on cloakroom duty for the next term but I don’t care – it was worth it.
Well…here is what happened. It was during double physics and it was just one of those afternoons when you can’t stop laughing and you feel a bit hysterical. For most of the lesson I had been yelling, “Jawohl, Herr Kommandant!” and clicking my heels together every time Herr Hamyer asked if we understood what he had been explaining. We were doing the molecular structure of atoms and how they vibrate.
Herr Kamyer was illustrating his point with the aid of some billiard balls on a tea towel on his desk. It was giving me the giggles anyway, and then I put my hand up because I had thought of a good joke. I put my hand up with the finger pointing forward, like in “Who ate all the pies?” and when Herr Kamyer said, “Yes?” I said, “Herr Kamyer, what part does the tea towel play in the molecular structure?”
That is when Herr Kamyer made his fateful mistake – he said, “Ach, no, I merely use the tea towel to keep my balls still.” It was pandemonium.
Some of my favorite books in the series include the staging of Macbeth (or, as Georgia calls it, MacUseless), Peter Pan, and Romeo and Juliet (again, to Georgia this is Rom and Juls and during the set building Georgia points out, “if Dave the Laugh and his mates have anything to do with building the scenery, the balcony scene is bound to quite literally bring the house down”). The jokes and context and relationships get so complicated and layered, that a few books in I’ll want to read a part out loud and think I’m reading the most hilarious thing, but some of it will be tied up with what happened before. I think that’s great – the books might not be standalone, but the entire series is so worth reading.