This book takes place over a short period of time and follows school girls Fionula (the Cooler), Chell, Manda, Kylah, Orla and posh girl Kay on their choir trip the big city. The girls take the opportunity of a day away from the provincial Port town where they live to make the most of the city, namely it's drinking places and it's men.
I was always one of the good girls at school, but I did go to a school where other girls would drink on the coach, and would make crude signs to show to the lorry drivers. I recognise that world and it was interesting to enter it. The girls are both lovable and shocking. The amount they drink is huge and unsurprisingly the book contains lots of throwing up and a scene in A@E. When reading it all seems very funny, and I wonder if it is possible to feel drunk on Warner's prose.
For me the best drawn characters where Fionula, who befriends the wretched and no longer good-girl Kay; Kay who is dealing with her own secret and Orla who is in remission from cancer. All the characters have some level of back-story, giving them a realness and a vulnerability in contrast to their bravado. The friendship between the girls is well caught.
I read this and then I HAD to read Stars in the Night Sky which had just come out in print. I was so glad I read it at that point, I don't think I'd have liked to have waited the 10 years it took Warner to write a follow up to find out what happened next. I'd love it of Warner wrote some more stories, set in the Port, about Morven and these girls....once you've fallen in love with Warner's world you just want to stay there!