This is a wonderful comic novel, brilliantly written and laugh-out-loud funny in places. I recommend it wholeheartedly, even though it's not the sort of thing I'd usually read.
The narrator is a sixteen-year old girl, and though I am sure that young people would love the book, it is an adult book, don't worry about that. There is stuff in it about funeral parlours, drug-taking, transvestism, mental illness, shoplifting and vandalism, so it's hardly mainstream. Perhaps that's why a couple of reviewers here didn't like it. But if Glazebrook wanted to write a best seller, she could do so tomorrow, in my opinion, because the story has pace and vivid characters and leaps off the page. Only a gifted writer can make a book do that.
I suppose that the Madolescents is in the tradition of the working-class, slangy, dialect novel, but it's far the best of that genre that I have read. There are more Geordie slang words per page than you'd hear up Bigg Market, but they didn't hold me up (and I am from Cornwall). And bouncing around among the slang are metaphors and similes to die for. Boy, can this author write visually - it's a rare gift:
"[He] makes a steeple with his hands. They're white and wrinkly, like tripe."
"Ash unbuttons his shirt and slips it off, revealing a goldy brown body, totally smooth and hairless, with copper-coloured nipples like rivets on 501s."
"Filthy's snoring like an elephant with catarrh."
It's a joy to find a writer who can knock off lines like that. And she does it on every page.
What's really wonderful and surprising is that the Madolescents, unlike most "working-class" novels, is never depressing (not to me, anyway), despite the in-your-face subject matter. In that respect Glazebrook reminds me of Steven Berkoff - the grosser Berkoff gets, the funnier he is: same with Glazebrook.
This is an absolute gem, this book. Don't hesitate.